PEDRO MZILENI | EFF’s 10th year rally displays a maturing party ready to govern
Different age groups, class and gender attended the event
The 10th anniversary rally of the EFF that took place at a 95,000 packed FNB stadium at the weekend has demonstrated that the party has a much stronger foothold in the popular imagination of the black majority in SA.
Its anniversary rallies since 2014 have been maturing on their purpose, the demographics of the audience, and the public messaging. Initially, the annual rally was a show of a resilient mobilisation of young people in the main to fill up the stadium to create an impression of strength. The speeches would focus on the idealistic application of the party’s cardinal pillars without an identifiable track record to measure their actual impact.
But the 10th edition of the rally on Saturday displayed a maturing party now led by a more experienced, innovative, and agile leadership that is deeply connected with the conscious of the most disfranchised of our society. The attendance this time around was driven by pure enthusiasm from different generations and classes of black people who wanted to come listen to a message of hope that will give them direction.
People from different age groups, different class circumstances, and gender representations attended – and Malema’s speech was more embedded on the practical landscape – where he used charismatic, poetic and humorous oratory skills to highlight the party’s track record, its strategic opponents, and its envisaged targets for the 2024 elections. This speech and the art of its delivery clearly generated an engaged audience in the stadium. In addition, the YouTube application is showing that the live broadcast and online viewing of this rally recorded the highest ever viewership of political party’s rally in SA.
These factors are a positive indication of how the party has been able to use its strengths to maximum effect since 2013. From 2014 to 2019, the EFF was in the National Assembly with only 25 MPs out of the possible 400 – and it only had 6% of the national vote. But the technique it used to mobilise society, illegitimise the ruling party and to accurately capture the language of that era of black people’s frustrations demonstrates the resilience of its young leadership to be persistent on their set targets.
In 2019, its MPs increased to 44 and it received 800,000 more votes as compared to its 2014 performance. This gave it a 10.7% of the vote. If we are to take these statistics into cognisance, attach them to the current political climate in SA, and use them as a yardstick to predict the 2024 election, then the EFF definitely looks set to grow once more.
The EFF’s campaigning strategy in the past 2 years has also shown its rapid maturity. A case in point is that the party’s central command team statement issued at the end of 2022 reminded us that the party finally managed to build branches and regional structures across SA. As a result, the party is now beginning to win difficult elections such as by-elections in local wards that used to be ANC traditional strongholds.
For instance, in April 2022, the EFF won by-elections in ward three at Phokwane local municipality in Northern Cape. The winning of this ward resulted in the ANC losing its majority in the municipality. The EFF also used this strategy after the 2016 local government elections to cocreate a ‘coalition vote’ with the DA to remove the ANC out of the three metros where it failed to get an outright majority. That decision shifted the internal affairs of the ANC greatly, resulting in the significant weakening of Jacob Zuma until he was ultimately removed in 2018. Since then, the ANC has been getting outmanoeuvred by the EFF’s ability to craft game plans out of its tiny votes.
In the past 2 weeks leading to its anniversary, the EFF took a presidential posture by acting as an incoming government in its public engagements. It held an essay competition about its own history with high schools in African languages, it met with international ambassadors and private businesses, it engaged the media on a frank dialogue, it held its commemoration in Marikana, and it hosted a lecture on Pan-Africanism and international solidarity at the university of Cape Town.
These engagements leading up to its 10th anniversary demonstrates the party’s readiness to lead national government and its willingness to drive a unique consultative democracy where it looks like the best among all of us will be prioritised to give collective solutions to our most pressing challenges. This approach is what we need to resolve all our most complex challenges as black people.
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