While it is almost certain that the ANC will win the coming election, what is equally certain is that it will lose a significant chunk of support to rival parties.
The DA is strengthening its hand in the Western Cape. While it can be easily dismissed with propaganda painting it as a party for white interests, the same cannot be said of the EFF whose troops are commanded by the irreverent Julius Malema. Once a friend of the ANC, he now stands as a determined foe, angry and with nothing to lose.
Julius Malema, the enfant terrible of South African politics, is promising to give into popular demand for expropriation and a return to the radical ideas of the ANC before it entered government. He is getting a lot of attention. His Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are selling promises by the second for votes.
Unveiling an election manifesto in February, reflecting its strong socialist position, the EFF claimed that, if elected into government, it would guarantee a minimum wage of R4 500 ($418) per month, expropriate land without compensation, ensure government has a 60% stake in all mining houses, abolish contract work and labour brokers, and double social grants, including pension and child grants. All this would be financed with money that the EFF would take from the banks.
“We are taking 60% of all the banks in SA, because banks are exploiting our people and they are charging them a lot,” Malema announced to applause. “We are going to take all big retail stores — they will be owned by the state.
With 60% of those profits, we will finance this manifesto.”
The EFF described itself as a government in waiting.
It drew a massive crowd of 50 000 to the stadium where the manifesto was launched. It also drew support from older parties like the decades-old Pan African Congress (PAC) and the Azanian People’s Organisation (APO).
Where the PAC and APO were lacking in charisma and organisation, Malema and the EFF have managed to successfully articulate and occupy that African-centred space. And the PAC and APO were considering an alliance with the EFF.
Anybody who believes Malema’s promises also believes in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. But like all religions, the EFF offers hope, and Julius Malema has been preaching his message with missionary zeal. After 20 years of promises, hope is in short supply. It is why service delivery protests, crime, labour unrest, and violence have become a common feature of the South African landscape.
The radical pronouncements of Malema, whether he can deliver or not, are at least music to the ears of the dispossessed. And they are lapping up his sales pitch, much to the chagrin of the ANC which has 20 years of work experience of the realities on the ground.
The ANC is well aware that any talk of, for example, a wholesale expropriation of land will trigger a massive Western assault on South Africa, as it has done in Zimbabwe for the past 14 years, coupled with false narratives that will destroy the party and destabilise the state. Malema, who is not in government, has that luxury. — Pusch Commey reporting for New African.
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