EFF is ‘biggest victim’ of Zuma’s MK party, says analyst but Floyd Shivambu insists red berets are strong



Published Jun 1, 2024


The meteoric rise of Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe political party will go down in South Africa’s history books as one of the greatest political surprises since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

The party which was registered a few months ago is set to be the third biggest party in South Africa.

In an interview with IOL, Professor of Public Affairs attached to Tshwane University of Technology, Mashupye Maserumule said as counting and collating of results from the polls continues, it has become clear that the emergence of the MK party has not only hurt the African National Congress, but the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been easily overtaken.

The ANC occupies pole position on the results list, having surpassed five million of votes, followed by its decades-old nemesis the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the MK party has dislodged the EFF on the respectable third biggest party slot in South Africa politics.

Professor of Public Affairs attached to Tshwane University of Technology, Mashupye Maserumule. Picture: Supplied

“The EFF has become the biggest victim of the emergence of the MK. In as much as the MK has eaten into the support base of the ANC, but also it did the same to the support base of the EFF. That much has always been very clear from the first time when MK contested by-elections in various districts in KwaZulu-Natal,” said the renowned political analyst.

Though the EFF on Friday evening surpassed the million votes mark, Maserumule said the growth of the red berets has been stunted.

“The EFF has not really grown that much since it came into the political landscape. One could see that the cause is the posture of radicalism, and crude politics which I think tends to really puts off many potential supporters, particularly from the middle strata,” he said.

“It (the EFF) remains stagnant. They have never really grown so significantly and with the emergence of MK, it in fact went down. In other words, the MK ate into the support base of EFF.”

Former President Jacob Zuma, leader of the MK party. File Picture

Maserumule said from inception, one could see that the MK party was set for greater heights within the political landscape of South Africa.

The academic however raised red flags on the long-term sustainability of the MK party which is build around the persona and charisma of former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

“MK is not really your typical sustainable party because it is centred on the personality called Jacob Zuma. If Jacob Zuma is no longer there, the MK is just going to fizzle out, it is going to collapse. The party is a short-term project,” he said.

“The MK party came into being as a result of Zuma himself. It is a Zuma project because of his grievance against the ANC. This is political vengeance against the ANC. Zuma is angry with the ANC and he has fought back because he managed to reduce the ANC below 50 percent.”

Before 11pm on Friday, with almost 90 percent of the national votes counted, the ANC was dithering around 41 percent, followed by the Democratic Alliance with over 20 percent, the MK in third place with more than 13 percent, and the EFF lagging behind 10 percent.

However, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu visited the IEC’s national results centre in Midrand where he was exuberant, insisting that his party has given a solid performance in the election.

“We are satisfied with the numbers that we have been given as the EFF and we welcome the support. More than a million South Africans have demonstrated practically that showing (support) for the Economic Freedom Fighters. More than a million have voted for the EFF and we really appreciate that,” said Shivambu.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu at the National Results Operation Centre in Midrand. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

He highlighted that in three elections in a row, the EFF has had more than a million voters choosing it as their party of choice.

In 2019, the EFF grew to 10.8 of the vote, nearly doubling their coveted seats in Parliament.

For the 2024 general elections, projections from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) predicts the EFF will likely garner around 9,4% of the total national vote, a decrease from the 10.8% they scored in 2019. Such a development would mean the red berets will have lesser seats in the the National Assembly.

Shivambu said “tectonic shifts” had happened and the whole context has also changed since the MK factor entered the political boxing ring.

“The ANC has suffered the biggest loss in KwaZulu-Natal, possible more than 40 percent of the support that they had in 2019. The IFP suffered the same fate as well. There are no way that when there are tectonic shifts in KwaZulu-Natal then the EFF was gonna be spared from that. What is inspiring is that despite a huge contribution from KwaZulu-Natal, which was our second contributor of votes in 2019, the EFF is still comfortably over a million votes. That shows we are not a regional party and even if there are shifts in one corner of South Africa, we still remain solid as an organization,” he said.

The EFF’s second in command made it clear that there in government that is going to be constituted in Gauteng or nationally without the strong voice of the EFF.

On the other hand, in an interview with IOL, Associate Professor at the North West University, John Molepo said after this election, the red berets have some deep introspection to do.

“Currently, from what we see, the performance of the EFF is not what we all anticipated, given how the party has held extensive campaigns and how they have been in the hearts of young people in this country. We thought the numbers (of EFF followers) would translate into votes.

Associate Professor at the North West University, John Molepo. Picture: Supplied

“The question we are asking is - why is the EFF not growing? Maybe the South Africans are perhaps sending a message to the EFF, that probably it is time for another leader from the EFF who can run the party. Malema has been running this party for a while now and there seems to be stagnation. Why can’t someone like the deputy president Floyd Shivambu rise to the leadership and perhaps bring more voters?”

Molepo, however, said some of the factors bedevilling the EFF outfit are not of their own doing. The emergence of the MK party impacted every political entity on the ballot, and unfortunately for the EFF, they had to be overtaken.