Hooligans or master strategists: The impact of the EFF on SA politics

While it's radicalism may be criticized as hooliganism by some, it is argued that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) style of politics has redefined the status quo.

But has the opposition party assumed the African National Congress’ (ANC) role as a vanguard of left-wing politics in South Africa?

Since obtaining 6% of the vote in the 2015 general election, the ANC has been challenged with the rhetoric of land ownership and nationalisation exerted by the EFF.

In a bid to speed up land expropriation last week EFF leader Julius Malema led a debate in Parliament on amending Section 25 of the Constitution, to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

Malema told the House that the EFF would add its 6% to the ANC’s 62% to get the two-thirds required to amend the Constitution and asked for an ad hoc committee on the issue.

But his motion received little support from either the ruling party or the opposition.

Political analysts Sithembile Mbete and Prince Mashele weighed in on the EFF’s influence and approach.

Th EFF has made this link consistently since 2013 between land and dignity, between land and personhood that we are seeing the ANC adopt that rhetoric in a way that it arguably never has.

Sithembile Mbete, Political analyst

They have occupied a space that traditionally has belonged to the ANC, which is the politics of the left.

Prince Mashele, Political analyst

The EFF has jumped into that space, projected itself as the vanguard of leftist politics in South Africa and that is what makes the ANC very uncomfortable.

Prince Mashele, Political analyst

Responding to the actions of the EFF in Parliament , both Mbete and Mashele say the party have thoughtfully used existing structures to achieve their goals.

What we have seen from the EFF’s actual political practice, the EFF is all about the rules….it’s the EFF that has used the Constitutional court and our judiciary to particular effect to achieve its goals.

Sithembile Mbete, Political analyst

You can’t accuse the EFF of acting without thought, if you look at their position papers, there is thought that goes into what they think about…..but at the same time they are using a spectacle that offends our sensibility as civilised South Africans.

Prince Mashele, Political analyst

Speaking on the unprogressive aspects of the EFF, Mbete says the party is still very masculine.

We are a deeply patriarchal society. What has astonished me though about the EFF is that while taking very progressive positions on land or the economy, they have seemed to not take equally progressive positions on gender issues and actually trying to act that out in their politics.

Sithembile Mbete, political analyst

Listen to the full debate below...

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