Picture: Abongile Ginya

As it turned five on Thursday, the fledgling EFF remains an indictment on the paternalistic authoritarianism of the suits at Luthuli House. The governing ANC is beset with a lot of internal upheavals. It should not have added to these challenges the burden of the EFF.

Those who saw fit to suspend Julius Malema, Floyd Shivambu and the Sindiso Magaqa in February 2012 - and ultimately expel from the party the headache that is now the EFF leader - did the ANC a disservice. One of Kgalema Motlanthe’s favourite tales about the former liberation movement is how they expelled the Group of 8, led by Tennyson Makiwane. Years later it would fire Bantu Holomisa, who received a commendation from the EFF leader at Mdantsane Stadium yesterday.

It would be lazy to dismiss this Malema-Holomisa meeting of minds as a mere coalition of the wounded. But the truth is that Malema is steeped in the history of the ANC. He invokes Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Tsietsi Mashinini and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with authority.

The birth of the EFF has no doubt been a boon for multiparty democracy. It has shown us how punch-drunk with power rulers can be if left unchecked. The EFF still behaves like kindergarten bullies in the National Assembly but, overall, they have woken us up to the genesis of a dictatorship. They made education fashionable in an era when the man at the helm of the ANC oozed anti-intellectualism.

Their red berets are ubiquitous and it would be foolhardy of the ANC to dismiss the EFF as a flash in the pan. We wish them well but hope they grow up and behave honourably in Parliament.