18 March 2019

South Africa: Pan-African EFF Makes Most of Rival Parties' Squabbles

Johannesburg — THE Pan-African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), buoyed by the factional squabbles afflicting the ruling party and the official opposition, looks in good stead to attain its aspirations of doubling its representation in Parliament from 25 legislators when South Africa holds general elections in May.

EFF, founded in 2013, has been spared the ructions troubling the major political parties in recent months, with the governing African National Congress (ANC) undergoing a leadership change after the then-party president, Jacob Zuma, lost out to Cyril Ramaphosa after a divisive elective congress in late 2017.

Zuma would in 2018 be recalled as the head of state with his own party spearheading his ouster from office.

ANC is still reeling from the infighting as evidence of links between Zuma, his party and government officials to the controversial Gupta family emerge.

These have split the tripartite alliance consisting of the ANC, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South African Communist Party (SACP).

Analysts observe the divisions will work against the continent's oldest liberation movement in the forthcoming polls.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) heads for the elections with its house not in order.

Led by Mmusi Maimane, it has suffered the departure of its "woman of steel" Patricia de Lille. The former mayor of Cape Town, a DA stronghold, parted ways with the party at the height of divisions afflicting the main opposition.

De Lille has formed her own opposition party called GOOD.

The intermittent fallout between former party leader, Helen Zale, and the party, is another headache for the DA ahead of polls.

EFF, which made the most gains in the last poll in 2014, has bucked the trend and has been the embodiment of unity ahead of the watershed polls.

Central to its manifesto is the reclamation and redistribution of the vast resources in Africa's most advanced economy.

"This is where true South Africans, who are concerned in the economic freedom of the country would know which party to vote for," said Lerato Moreno of Rustenburg, North West during an interview with CAJ News Africa.

Nokuthula Majola of Newcastle in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) is among scores of ANC supporters that have crossed floor to EFF, a party formed by Julius Malema and colleagues expelled from the ruling party over differing ideologies.

"This is because their policies (EFF) resonate well with the youths and almost majority blacks being economically sidelined by white minority," Majola said.

Sibongile Dlamini from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga Province, said, economic transformation pledges were hollow without the reclamation of land.

"As a nation, let us deal with this emotive issue once and for all (expropriation of land without compensation). For that reason, EFF is my party," Dlamini said.

A study carried out in 2018 indicated EFF's Pan Africanist approach would claim highest turnover of legislators by an estimated 61 percent, a development that would guarantee Malema's party 55 Members of Parliament.

EFF has emerged the party of choice for youth leaders. South Africa's official population of 51,8 million (2011 census) is predominantly youth.

Among EFF's aspiring legislators are former university 'Fees Must Fall' leaders Vuyani Pambo and Naledi Chirwa.

EFF Student Command leaders Peter Keetse and Phiwaba Madokwe are also good bets to secure parliamentary berths.

Ringo Madlingozi, the award-winning pop musician, is another figure tipped to be a member of the EFF in the National Assembly.

EFF's anticipated good run in the 2019 general elections is also based on its pledge to the unemployed youths, who are desperate to find jobs.

The lack of transformation in leading sectors such as banking, insurance, technology, automobile, energy and mining has also frustrated youths hence they are projected to align with EFF at the polls.

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