Why the EFF should go back to the ANC

The views expressed in this article are opinion and do not represent the views of Nelson Mandela University or MadibazNews.


In October 1818, the interminable antagonism between the senior Chief of Xhosaland, Ngqika, and his uncle Ndlambe erupted in a battle of epic proportions that went down in Xhosa tradition as the battle of Amalinda. As the rivalry between the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African National Congress some 200 years later, the strife that cut across an entire nation was ignited by an internal dispute between the two parties.

The exceptional battle that has been waged by an expelled President of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema has been commendable. The ferocity in which he has fought over the past five years is in reminiscence of the fury of Ndlambe as he defeated Ngqika and inflicted death on 500 of his followers. The intensity might be the same on the side of the Economic Freedom Fighters as that of the forces of Ndlambe. In a country that has been raged by the scourge of poverty for centuries, a battle between the two parties may only yield destruction.

History has widely proven that the British colonizers were the true victors of the war, as the conflict between the two parties opened a window for them to meddle. After Ngqika had lost the war he petitioned the help of the British (in a manner that is similar to when the EFF collaborated with the Democratic Alliance to vote the ANC out of the metros). To cut a long story short, that collaboration ultimately led to the amaXhosa losing the rights to their most productive arable land between the Keiskamma and Fish Rivers. That annexation of land ultimately led to the once mighty Xhosa nation to fall under British rule.

The South African polity over the past five years is imaginable without the red berets of the Economic Freedom Fighters.        For a fringe group with only 6% of the electorate, they have managed to influence the policy direction of the country and got tongues wagging.

With the issue of land which was seen as something in the periphery being at the centre of political discussions from parliament to beer halls in the townships.

As much as that is the case, the electoral prospects of the ANC have greatly improved since the election of Cyril Ramaphosa at NASREC which ultimately led to the resignation of former President, Jacob Zuma a few months later. At the peak of Zuma scandals such as Nkandla, the ANC recorded a national vote of 51% at the 2016 local government elections, a fall from the 62% in the 2014 national elections. The latest polls (IPSOS) have placed the ANC around a legion of 61% with the EFF getting around 10% of the votes.

After the elections on the 8th of May, the only time the EFF will have bargaining power and be a factor in South African politics in the immediate is if the ANC gets less than 50% of the electorate. As it did in the aftermath of the 2016 local government elections, it will then be in a position to negotiate, but as things stand, uphephela has hit a cul de sac.

The forthcoming elections are as important to the future of the EFF (if not more) as they are to [ ] the ANC. Julius Malema does not strike me as someone who would be happy to be the Commander-In-Chief of opposition benches for another five years.

As much as Chief Ngqika wanted to defeat his paternal uncle, Chief Ndlambe to the throne, Julius Malema wants to be the President of the country, but he cannot do that with 10%.

With the ANC getting closer to the ideological orientation of the EFF which are stated on its seven non-negotiable cardinal pillars, the reason for their parallel existence evaporates.

The arguments which were used in the early 90s for the merger of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in the ANC can be used with the EFF. South Africa needs cooperation to achieve the ideals of the Freedom Charter more than contestation that is not on ideological grounds.

The EFF can be what the ANCYL of 1944 was to the ANC and bring them closer to the principles of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela as they have already been doing from outside.

Leave a Comment