MALAIKA MAHLATSI | EFF learning how costly, dangerous hypocrisy is

Red berets side with DA when it suits it, now its tune has changed when ANC wants to partner with official opposition

EFF leader Julius Malema, Marshall Dlamini and Floyd Shivambu at the IEC national result operation Centre in Midrand. The EFF says they are happy with how the EFF has performed in the 2024 elections.
EFF leader Julius Malema, Marshall Dlamini and Floyd Shivambu at the IEC national result operation Centre in Midrand. The EFF says they are happy with how the EFF has performed in the 2024 elections.
Image: Thulani Mbele

After the local government elections of 2021, where the ANC went on to haemorrhage even more voter support than it had in the previous election, most of SA’s metropolitan municipalities fell into opposition hands.

In all cases, the ANC amassed the majority of the votes, albeit not enough to constitute a majority government. For this reason, coalition governments had to be formed, most of which would go on to be led by the DA.

While many of these coalitions would later implode, the defining feature in all of them was that the EFF enjoyed kingmaker status and used it to vote with the DA, a party that it is ideologically diametrically opposed to.

At the time, the EFF made the argument that the ANC is the biggest enemy of the revolution and must be removed from power at all cost — even if this meant putting a DA with unarguably market fundamentalist policies that are inherently anti-poor into office.

These policies range from the support of property rights against land expropriation in a country where indigenous people are still landless and disenfranchised to the rejection of the clearing of historical debt for poor students who are predominantly black.

For the EFF, it was better for South Africans to be governed by a coalition led by such a party than it was for it to be governed by a coalition led by the ANC.

Fast forward to 2024. Two weeks ago, the country held its general elections to elect national and provincial governments. The outcome of the elections have stunned everyone, with the ANC losing its majority for the first time in the democratic dispensation.

While it remains the biggest party in SA, obtaining just over 40% of the vote, the ANC is now forced to go into a coalition with other parties to constitute a government. It calls this a government of national unity (GNU). But whatever name it gives it, what the ANC has proposed is, in fact, a coalition government. Several parties including the EFF, the MK party and the Patriotic Alliance have refused to form part of this government.

However, the DA and the IFP are likely going to be part of this government alongside the ANC. The three parties have a combined total of 65.84% of the total vote. In refusing to be part of this coalition, the EFF has argued that the DA is an enemy of the revolution and has stated that it is unwilling to be part of the government of national unity that includes the DA.

In the not-too-distant past, the EFF was willing to vote with the DA. It insisted that it was not part of the DA-led coalition but merely voted with the party. Of course, this was simply the EFF wanting to have its cake and eat it.

In reality, it was part of the DA-led coalition and with its votes, supported the party’s policies and budgets. The EFF was willing to work with the DA when it was the kingmaker and, in the words of its leader, Julius Malema, was “holding the ANC by the scrotum”.

Now, when it is no longer a kingmaker, having been relegated from the third to the fourth biggest party and getting less votes than it had in the previous election, it wants to position itself as ultra-radical and progressive in its rejection of working with the DA.

I don’t agree with the ANC-DA-IFP coalition and would have preferred an ANC-EFF-MK coalition more — for many reasons. But the EFF must not attempt to rewrite history or to claim the moral high ground. Perhaps EFF leaders have forgotten, but South Africans do remember when the EFF didn’t think it was counter-revolutionary to support the DA. We do remember when the EFF was willing to put the DA in power. Malema is finally learning that hypocrisy is dangerous — and costly.


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