Its leader Julius Malema hails from the ruling party’s youth league. His rise to fame is attributed to his reign as the youth league’s president, especially during the campaign for Jacob Zuma to succeed Thabo Mbeki as president of the ANC.
But he dented his image by the way he conducted himself against Mbeki. He later swopped political attitudes: negativity towards Mbeki was later directed at his “political dad”, Zuma. Then this attitude was directed at Mbeki.
He reverted to the tradition of the founders of the ANC Youth League, engaging the mother body and body politic. Though he went overboard, he raised some issues that affect society.
When he was expelled from the ANC some people wrote his political obituary. However, he re-emerged with the introduction of the EFF.
From the beginning, his political party raised eyebrows because of its policies and dress code. His party’s approach, is to take land by force. The fear was the emulation of Zimbabwe’s approach - disastrous land grabs.
But there are also some South Africans who believe that it is the only way to go because the “willing-seller, willing-buyer” policy doesn’t work.
The argument is that farmers are not co-operating and ask exorbitant amounts of money for the land. There is also a lot of scepticism about nationalisation. Scepticism is more about big capital and investors leaving the country and the resultant unemployment and starvation. The issue of the berets is debatable.
The EFFs worst act was their storming of the Gauteng legislature after they were refused entry because of their dress code - overalls and berets (“domestic worker/labourer” attire).
Another issue that raises eyebrows is the way they speak or refer to other MPs in Parliament, including showing the middle finger. Globally there is a dress code for parliamentarians. Also, there is a way of addressing or referring to other MPs.
In conclusion, the tradition of the youth league the EFF adopted, giving vibrancy to the mother body, is necessary in our new political landscape. But its policies and approach raised eyebrows from the beginning. This is because South Africans are scared of a Zimbabwe style of situation which has become costly for Zimbabwe’s economy.
But still, that shouldn’t be an excuse for doing away with “willing- seller, willing-buyer” policy that never worked and will never work. It must be replaced with radical land policy, but with precautionary measures. The action of dress code, refusal to obey the rules of Parliament is not right, but destruction of property is worse. Their dress code does not reflect the nature of work they do in Parliament.
There are no mines and other jobs that make one dirty or require safety gear in Parliament, so they do not need overalls. Berets are not worn in parliaments, except perhaps when a leader has a military background or holds that rank or honour. The same applies to the women; they are MPs, and not “domestic workers”.
Parliament has rules and regulations and members have to abide by them. Some issues can be challenged and debated, which gives vibrancy to the body politic. They and the DA complement each other as an opposition. Strong opposition is the next best medicine after democracy.
Crossing swords is inevitable at times because of their policies and approach, but destruction of property can never be acceptable.
There is a distinction between Parliament and street politics, especially after 1994. The EFF does not need to make unparliamentary disturbances inside Parliament; it needs to challenge genuine issues in a genuine manner.
For example, on the Nkandla issue they even had the support of other parties and pushed Parliament to a standstill.
The EFF “attacks” the ruling party as no longer being the mouthpiece of the people - referring mainly to black people.
That the EFF presents a new force to reckon with and a bad approach as well makes them both a new sense and a nuisance in our new political landscape. The question is what kind of a nuisance it is, necessary or unnecessary?
To black people who have suffered racism until now, it is beacon of hope.
It is straightforward without any apology. Furthermore, it gives racists a run for their money.
Some parties are turning a blind eye to racism because their members practise it. Others nurse it to avoid disappointing their masters.
Currently, the majority of black people who lost land are in support of the ruling party’s policy of land appropriation without compensation.
The ruling party took it from the EFF, though their modalities differ.
The EFF may be reckless, not explaining to the land-hungry people how land appropriation should be carried out.
The ruling party has a policy. But the EFF is determined that the land should not go back to the minority who currently own it.
They say title deeds will revert to the banks, which are owned by white capital, because people will sell the land as a result of poverty. This will force us back to square one. Hence it is for state- ownership.
Isn’t this the same as what happened with land compensation under the title “land claims”, where people are given money instead of land? The EFF is growing both quantitatively and qualitatively. Whether EFF or whither EFF?
* Thembile Ndabeni is a freelance writer, researcher and commentator. He holds a Master’s degree in South African politics and political economy from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.