News brief

by Aug 12, 2013Magazine

As the 2014 elections approach and the ANC continues to weaken under Zuma’s leadership a host of new political parties and formations, from Agang to WASP, are beginning to enter the political scene from. The latest emerge is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by former ANCYL president, Julius Malema, and including many of his former allies, such as Floyd Shivambu and even notorious businessman and media phenomenon, Kenny Kunene.

The EFF is running on the same radical redistributive programme that earned Malema’s ANCYL international infamy, promising to expropriate land without compensation and to nationalise key industries. It is aiming to capture the left space that the ANC has opened up with its continuing commitment to orthodox neoliberalism and its series of disastrous scandals, from Marikana to Nkandla. There are many youth votes up for grabs for the first time, from the generation facing 70% unemployment and with little of their parents’ lingering loyalty to the ANC.

The other parties’ attempts to capture this key voting bloc are nothing short of laughable. The DA’s campaign is based upon the ridiculous Youth Wage subsidy, which nobody outside of Thoughtleader blogs buys. The party is now also attempting to claim struggle credentials, which would be less ridiculous if they hadn’t airbrushed every dubious figure from their history (from Tony Leon to Harry Shwartz) and if their predecessors hadn’t opposed universal franchise.

Agang, on the other hand, has yet to move beyond increasingly vague platitudes about what it actually stands for. Anyone familiar with Ramphele’s political history and her employment by UCT, the World Bank and Goldfields, is unconvinced that she offers anything different from the DA’s contempt for the working class. Added to this is that she dramatically overestimates her own fame: many of those in the 18–25 age group have never even heard of her and are unfamiliar with her political history with the Black Consciousness Movement.

The EFF has a real opportunity to make inroads into the ANC’s existing support base as well as capturing many of the currently non-voting electorate. It could potentially be a game changer in South African politics. However, EFF’s biggest challenge will be how to fund its campaign as it has severed ties with the ANC’s funders and is not exactly running on a platform that makes it attractive to capital. Furthermore, the principles of their leadership remain questionable and Malema, Kunene and company will have to prove they are more than mere opportunists if they are truly going to threaten the ANC’s hegemony

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