Supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters chant slogans during the official launch of the political party in Marikana. File photo: Mujahid Safodien
Supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters chant slogans during the official launch of the political party in Marikana. File photo: Mujahid Safodien

What attracts nice people to the EFF?

By Max du Preez Time of article published Nov 5, 2013

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Perhaps it is time to ask those decent men and women now with the EFF a few questions instead of just writing them off, says Max du Preez.

Pretoria - If I thought the Economic Freedom Fighters would bring about more social justice and real economic freedom to the economically un-free, I would join them tomorrow.

Like many other South Africans, I’m looking for a progressive alternative to the ANC to give my vote to next year. A party that will draft a new pact between government and governed, between public and private sectors, a party that will deepen our democracy, advance our freedoms and bring real hope to the marginalised.

When Julius Malema launched the EFF, I thought it was a bit of a joke. How could the country’s foremost tenderpreneur, a crass political hooligan who became a millionaire and lived like a gangster boss on a meagre ANC salary, pose as the champion of the poor?

I wasn’t surprised when Malema was joined by fellow exhibitionist Kenny Kunene and by Andile Mngxitama, the black version of Steve Hofmeyr. Their utterances and those of their followers on social media reflected a toxic mix of racial hatred, cheap populism, greed and political thuggery.

But then someone I know from my home town, South Africa’s most successful home-based international movie star, joined the EFF as a member of its leadership: Fana Mokoena.

I know Mokoena as a man deeply concerned with social justice and angry at continued inequalities.

He may be an angry man, but he is not an attention seeker or a political thug. Unlike most in the EFF leadership, he is a democrat.

There must be other Fana Mokoenas in the EFF fold – essentially decent people who feel it is time for a new deal, a radical change in how the ANC has dealt with empowerment, poverty and unemployment.

By the way, the EFF’s latest acquisition, Dali Mpofu, is not one of those. He has a record of mismanagement of public institutions and milking taxpayers’ money to fund his lavish lifestyle. Malema himself, when he was leader of the ANC Youth League, demanded his resignation, saying he was running the SABC “like a spaza shop”.

Mpofu is as fake a revolutionary as Malema himself. After his R13.4 million SABC payout and the vast amounts he received for representing the Marikana miners at the Farlam commission, he went on an aggressive fund-raising campaign to pay for his continued participation at the commission.

If he was the kind of man who truly believed in what the EFF says it stands for, he would have lowered his daily rate significantly or even appeared pro bono, at least for a while.

I have not had the opportunity to ask Mokoena how he justifies his association with Malema and the EFF.

Perhaps it is time for us to ask those decent men and women now with the EFF a few questions instead of just writing them off or calling them names.

I hear some EFF members say, when asked about the questionable character of their leader, that it is “not about individuals” but about policy.

Come on, if there was no Malema with his reckless talk and media savvy, there would be no EFF. If the EFF does get 5 percent or more of the vote next year, it will be because of him.

I would like to ask Mokoena if he isn’t bothered by the crude racism coming from EFF leaders like Malema and Mngxitama. Speak the truth without fear, yes, but dangerous insults and threats of civil war?

What’s with the military-style uniforms, berets and use of titles like “commander” and “commissar” in the EFF, Fana? Is the EFF a political party or some wannabe militia? You guys remind me of the fascist nationalist splinter groups in Serbia, Russia and Chechnya.

Do you think seizing all agricultural land is a solution or is it just a crude slogan? No more long-term planning or investment in agricultural infrastructure, a loss of successful commercial farmers, a guaranteed steep drop in the production of food and employment?

Let’s talk about greater state involvement in the economy, public/private partnerships and worker share options. But large-scale nationalisation of mines, banks and industries while the state is so corrupt and unable to manage education, health, the SABC…? When you talk about the redistribution of wealth, you mean the redistribution of poverty.

The EFF says Robert Mugabe is its hero, the “true African liberator”. But to “liberate” Zimbabweans, a third of his people had to flee the country. Where would 15 million South Africans flee to when we go through the same process?

I thought African pride meant more than just punishing the white “settlers” and destroying the economy and ordinary people’s rights in the process.

The EFF is trying to be a local version of Zanu-PF.

* Max du Preez is an author and columnist.

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

Pretoria News

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