Darkest before the Dawn: Part III The Economic Freedom Party, a 'no hope' party of protest

Historically, once a regional civil war has been won, it is rare that it is refought, although the feeling that it might happen again resounds through the society for generations. This, coupled with the simple fact that the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) is not a party of wealth distribution, will in all probability mean that they will not be the next party to lead SA after the ANC. Rather, I think of them as a catalyst that acts to weaken the ANC, hopefully as they claim within the rule of law. As such, at this stage they are the surprisingly positive force for a balanced democracy in SA, which has been absent since the country’s independence in 1961.

The EFF under Julius Malema is effectively a throwback to the communist values that underpinned the ANC during its war and operates from a platform that ‘not enough booty’ was distributed to the victors. Thus, its social engine is the reality that many of the poor in SA have not seen the benefits of winning, and that a second revolution is required to achieve this outcome. Interestingly, the EFF argues that there never was a revolution in the first place and fails to see the process outlined above. The EFF seeks to harness the growing anger and frustration of the poor to walk the path to power. However, it may come as a surprise to many, but Malema like most rabble-rousing politicians has two faces, one for the uneducated public and one for private discussions where he reveals a sharp intelligence and warmth that belies his public persona. He does make some very good points that the current form of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment), with single and limited black ownership, should be replaced by a system that gives ownership to a broader base of the workers.This evolved version of the BEE programme, if executed correctly, would certainly have the power to motivate workers to the new level of productivity. It is therefore difficult to see potential opposition from the stakeholders who are on the other side of the BEE equation, as long as they are not diluted further. Malema also states that due to the policies of control enacted by the ANC, his party has been forced into high profile actions of protest to challenge the government. His stance is one that is against corruption in the ANC, though it remains to be seen if his values are any better than the ones he is criticising.

The one key issue is that SA is desperate for foreign investment, and the policies of the EFF will certainly not encourage investment from the Middle East or the Western world. That would leave only one other source of capital, namely China. Thus, a vote for the EFF would be a vote for greater Chinese influence in SA, with all the risks of long-term control that we have discussed many times. Even if the EFF won power, I do not believe that a party of protest has the requisite skills to govern effectively. Furthermore, the communist model has proven ineffective since its inception in its purest form. The USSR only survived for about 73 years, initially through its rapid demographic expansion and then from 1950 to 1975 through the commodity cycle that underpinned its gross economic inefficiencies. Equally, in China demographic forces combined with cloaked capitalism have lifted the nation. Most importantly, as the ANC have distributed all the wealth there is nothing left for the EFF to give away, which makes them a busted flush in the next elections, i.e. a no hope party of protest.