The nation watched as the ANC vs. Malema drama played itself out in the national press over the past year, culminating in the then ANCYL president, Julius Malema, being unceremoniously shown the door of the ANC.
Many doubted that any political career could survive so much turbulence and corruption charges to boot, but Mr. Malema has proved everyone wrong by being a political die-hard. He bounced back onto the national and political stage with his own party (Economic freedom fighters).
While some expected this new party to flare and quickly fizzle out, its newly released manifesto has caused ripples not just in the media, but in government as well, which doesn’t seem to agree with the EFF’s plan to “economically emancipate the people of South Africa, Africa and the world.”
The EFF’s inclusion of state seizure of assets in its manifesto has riled farmers and the government, with Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, moving to reassure farmers by saying that government would not allow “people to sow discord in our farming communities for party-political gains.”
During a recent newspaper interview, the Agricultural minister said that if Malema and EFF supporters occupied farms or agricultural land, action would be taken by the government- what kind of action though is unclear. Farmers who would not want to see their farms occupied, Zimbabwean style, were also warned not to take the law into their own hands, but to rest assured that government would do whatever it takes to stabilise the situation.
Any push that could destabilize the agricultural sector would be another knife wound to the struggling economy. Nationalisation of mines is also on the books and combined with current labour tensions is doing as much to spook investors as an actual poltergeist encounter. One does have to credit Julius Malema with being consistent and persistent with his political dogma, having failed to push a nationalisation agenda whilst in the ANC, he has found another way forward.
Whether Mr. Malema’s party will get public support to give him enough political clout to implement the EFF’s national agenda is yet to be seen. While political analysts doubt the ability of new parties to garner significant support, growing disenchantment with the economy and corruption scandals have diminished the ANC’s historical glow, other parties are becoming a temptation to ANC constituents.
Alas, getting voters to jump ship is never a simple task and most that attempt to often stumble on the terrain of staunch party loyalty and political inertia. Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters believe they can make a political splash by offering voters something old but something starkly new, a voice that ANC voters are familiar with and a rallying call with a foundation of unbridled revolutionary rhetoric.
The commander in Chief of the EFF has said; “We have got a completely different plan. Ours is expropriation of land without compensation. We want to nationalise and those mines we want to nationalise, we are not going to pay for them. Our enemy No. 1 is monopoly capital.” Tough talk, that the under 35 voters being targeted by the EFF will want to hear.
These voters are jobless, disgruntled and disillusioned with the state of affairs in the country, 20 years post-independence and are the same people who Julius Malema was wildly popular with as the President of the Youth League. Young people make a difference when they vote, the historical election of Barack Obama being an excellent example of this.
A candidate that can speak their language and bring them out to vote in numbers doesn’t need to have the backing of Economists to win by popularity. Only time will tell if the EFF has the magical touch to wean under 35 voters from the ANC.