EFF split exposes chinks in Malema’s armour

2014-10-15 20:41
(File: EFF)

(File: EFF)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The EFF has gone to ground since being branded “liars and hypocrites who stole the votes of the poor masses” by former EFF regional co-ordinator Wonder Sentimile.

Sentimile, along with several other disgruntled EFF members, has abandoned the party in favour of a new party: The New Economic Freedom Front.

Yet the EFF has refused to give News24 - or indeed any other media group - a response to Sentimile’s allegations.

In a bizarre exchange, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi first evaded contact with News24, before sending a picture of the actor Bill Cosby looking quizzical.

Finally, Ndlozi admitted to News24 that he did not want to talk about it, before adding: “Swallow it”.

But his silence speaks volumes, according to academics.

Broken promises

Last week, Sentimile claimed: "Immediately after the election, they received everything from government - air tickets, accommodation, money in Parliament.

"We were not supposed to take from government. We have people who are suffering... They have stolen the votes of the poor masses of our people."

EFF members had agreed before the May general election that they would not take anything from government. They had promised to emulate the austere lifestyle of the late Burkina Faso president, Thomas Sankara.

But Professor Daryl Glaser, head of political studies at Witwatersrand University, told News24: “They have already shown signs of compromising their commitment to personal austerity, for example in their decision to use private health and education.

“And of course [EFF leader Julius] Malema carries a personal baggage of corruption allegations, and continues to advertise his own high consumption as evidence that he is liberated from apartheid and black poverty”.

Glaser said he would therefore expect the EFF to be sensitive to allegations of selling out

Indeed, Professor Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg is well accustomed to the EFF’s sensitivity.

“I am repeatedly subject to personal insult when I criticise them,” he told News24, adding: “When faced with queries on developments which may make them look bad, they therefore become abusive because they assume they can bully anyone who does not tell the story in the way they want it told”.

‘Unjust practices’

Certainly, it is not just Sentimile’s criticism of parliamentary perks that threatens the EFF’s image. He also claimed the party was riddled with “unjust practices”.

Sentimile said: "Every meeting you attend in the EFF, there is no platform to enquire about any decisions being made. I have spoken to them several times - Julius Malema, [Chief Whip] Floyd Shivambu, etc.

“They say if you are not satisfied with the decisions they are making you can leave the organisation."

Political parties are rarely very democratic, as Professor Anthony Butler, head of politics at the University of Cape Town, points out. In fact, “the more democratic they are, the more they fall apart”, he said.

That said, one of the problems with the EFF is that it was created from losing ANC factions, said Butler.

“It was the same story with Cope - the defeated faction created a new party and attracted those who weren’t in it - so there are inherent tensions within the party. The group of outsiders have a different objective.”

These different objectives still need to be heard through official mechanisms or channels, he said.

Glaser, meanwhile, pointed to evidence that Malema himself is “haughty with underlings and rivals, very thin-skinned and reluctant to hear criticism”.

He added: “The militarised ranks of the EFF - and Malema's designation as Commander in Chief – are suggestive of hierarchy and obedience rather than internal democracy.”

The EFF may have a manifesto, but what it needs to do next, said Butler, is to hold an elective conference where the leadership is endorsed by the delegates.

It also needs to look ahead to what compromises it may have to make in the event of future local election successes, said Glaser. These compromises will “definitely upset those attracted to the EFF’s ideological purity”.

‘Victims of their own success’

Though the New EFF is not viewed as much of a threat, Amanda Gouws, professor of political science at the University of Stellenbosch, said that the EFF would not have expected factions in their midst so soon.

She told News24: “I am of the opinion that the allegations are probably true and they are now trying to find information that will put Sentimile in a bad light. But I have no proof of this.”

Both Glaser and Butler agree that the split does not pose any real danger to the EFF at this point. It has none of the EFF’s funding or resources, and has no standing in parliament.

Butler said: “One can safely assume that the New EFF will disappear.”

But what the split has done is draw attention to the EFF’s credibility - which as Glaser argues, “depends on their continuing to appear as rebels or outsiders, untainted by establishment power and corruption”.

He added: “The EFF faces a familiar challenge for emerging parties - the danger of potentially becoming victims of their own success.”

Can the EFF keep up appearances and remain untainted? If the party is unwilling to answer the charges

Sentimile has laid at its door, “there must be pressure there”, said Butler.

Read more on:    eff  |  julius malema  |  politics

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
261 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.