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EFF are not the ‘real opposition’

EFF MPs heckle President Jacob Zuma during question time. File picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

EFF MPs heckle President Jacob Zuma during question time. File picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

Published Sep 23, 2014

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Julius Malema and his EFF MPs are after power and settling scores, not improving Parliament, says Max du Preez.

I’m really getting annoyed with analysts and commentators declaring that the EFF has eclipsed other opposition parties as the “real opposition” in Parliament.

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These people, whose job it is to inform and give us background and analysis to enhance the state of public opinion in our democracy, are aiding and abetting those hell-bent on dumbing down our public discourse to mere sloganeering and theatrics.

I don’t for one moment underestimate or under-value the contribution the EFF has made in Parliament the last few months.

Its roots and constituency gave it a licence to be more forthright and confrontational towards the ANC and government than the official opposition – the DA. It is more immune to insults than the DA because it is saying what a lot of angry ANC supporters are saying and it is supposedly representing the black youth.

EFF leader Julius Malema was indeed correct when he stated last week that his party was responsible for the parliamentary channel on satellite television suddenly becoming popular.

But the reality is that people are not tuning in to this channel to know more about the workings of Parliament or the shaping of legislation. They’re just doing it for the thrill of seeing the EFF create havoc.

Channel 408 has become sensational reality television. EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu’s public middle finger to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was a demonstration of what was going on below the surface.

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Ramaphosa was the ANC official who finally kicked Malema and Shivambu out of the party. They’re settling old scores in a broedertwis. That’s why Shivambu penned a series of extraordinary personal attacks on Ramaphosa, hilariously accusing him of being “careerist” when he helped form the National Union of Mineworkers and later helped shape Cosatu.

President Jacob Zuma is its other main target because the EFF knows it was him who insisted that Malema and Shivambu be ousted.

I have a nasty suspicion that if Malema and Shivambu had not been expelled from the ANC, they would have been in the forefront of defending the ANC, Zuma, Nkandla, Ramaphosa and the events at Marikana aggressively, just as the ANC and SACP’s youth wings are doing

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The few EFF MPs I know from experience as a journalist are all sharp minds and politically savvy. They know that their stated policies of nationalising mines and banks and seizing all farmland will be disastrous for the economy and the poor. It’s power they’re after, I suspect – and revenge.

The ANC is as guilty of turning our Parliament into a reality television show. The outrageous behaviour of Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula and MP Bertha Mabe during the debates last week and the actions and utterances of secretary-general Gwede Mantashe are examples.

The EFF didn’t get an answer from Zuma on when he was going to pay for Nkandla and it didn’t get a proper response from Ramaphosa on Marikana because it had turned the debates into personal confrontations and then walked out or got thrown out.

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Contrast this with the speeches made by MPs such as Mmusi Maimane of the DA, Mosioua Lekota of Cope and Bantu Holomisa of the UDM. Maimane was particularly good during the debate on the Speaker – he was strong and reasoned in his challenge, but made it clear that the issue wasn’t personal.

The ANC’s only response to him was that he was a “rented black” and a “house negro” and beholden to a “white madam”.

It should be clear to all without blinkers that Maimane was much better political and human material than most in our Parliament and the cabinet. If he had chosen to be a politician in the ANC or the EFF, he would have reached the senior ranks just as quickly.

I wonder if the ANC rabble-rousers ever pause to think of the nearly 750 000 black South Africans (about 6 percent of black voters) who voted for the DA when they call black DA MPs “rented blacks”.

The DA received 67 percent of coloured and 61 percent of Indian votes in May. Black DA members know they will never be up for cushy jobs as deployed cadres and cannot even dream of becoming tenderpreneurs.

We should all welcome the new energy in our parliamentary politics, but not forget that the cheap thrills supplied by the EFF do not by themselves make our highest legislative body a better place or make the executive effectively more accountable.

Deep research, proper perusing of documents and draft legislation, active participation in portfolio committees and, when necessary, taking the executive to court should be opposition parties’ main tasks.

* Max du Preez is an author and columnist.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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