Will the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) survive without pulling political stunts, or when its leader Julius Malema is gone?
This question comes after the party again tried to put the State of the Nation Address (Sona) spotlight on itself by trying to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech last night over the Phala Phala burglary scandal.
This is the same stunt they pulled during their “payback the money” campaign against then president Jacob Zuma. The EFF’s drive to remove Ramaphosa from power will culminate in a national shutdown on 20 March over the power crisis.
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It is not surprising Malema is also taking advantage of the resignation of deputy president David Mabuza to boost the EFF’s support base. Like he did with Zuma, he is considering visiting Mabuza at his Mpumalanga farm for a cup of tea.
The EFF, which is gearing up for its 10th anniversary and elective conference in July, has been in the forefront of every populist rhetoric since the “Zuma must fall” era.
As much as the EFF has been selling itself as a corrupt-free party that can replace the ruling ANC, it hasn’t been able to maintain that position because it still fails to account on its alleged involvement and benefit from the VBS Mutual Bank scandal that left several municipalities in a dire financial situation.
Malema has been at the helm of the EFF since its inception and it is expected that he will be seeking a third term when the new leaders are elected to its central command structure in July.
This comes as no surprise because the party that prides itself with a membership growth of over a million, seems to be lacking leaders who are up to the challenge to lead because of the poor quality of members the EFF has drawn to its ranks. As a result, Malema seems to be holding the party as if it’s his personal fiefdom.
Although he says the EFF practices democratic centralism, he serves as a dictatorial leader in the party. And no-one dares to challenge him.
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Due to that, the EFF is facing a political dilemma of finding itself irrelevant once the commander-in-cheap politicking and the current leadership vacate the top seats, for those who are at the top seem to be the cream of the EFF.
In addition, the EFF lacks a clear succession plan and the hope that the EFF student command will be the next generation to take over is sketchy because they are not groomed to lead the party into the next phase that’s beyond opposition.
The student command is only preoccupied with alcohol and money that is ill-gotten, because the older generation of the EFF seems to be portraying that. The structure is unruly, chaotic and is populist like the current EFF national leadership of a one-man show.
And now, that gives us a clear indication of how directionless the EFF might end up being because of the present state of its student command structure from national down to campus level.
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Today, the EFF only stays in the headlines because of the vibrancy of its leader and once that is gone, the EFF risks following the same fate of the Inkatha Freedom Party, United Democratic Movement, and the Congress of the People.
The EFF fails to indoctrinate its members into its ideology because most don’t even seem to understand the Marxist-Leninist position the party says it seeks to make a reality in South Africa.
The EFF is the perfect example that quantity is not better than quality. If the party wants to survive after Malema, it must invest in its young fighters and groom them to be ideologically rooted in what the party seeks to stand for.
If that is not the case, the EFF will continue to be a home to flipflopping politicians who cause confusion and disruption with their actions and words. And Sona gave us once again a glimpse of how dramatic the EFF is.
-Mthembu is News24’s Young Mandela 2022 winner in the leadership category