Is the EFF an effective opposition party?

2015-07-28 08:35
Economic Freedom Fighters. (File, Alexander Joe, AFP)

Economic Freedom Fighters. (File, Alexander Joe, AFP)

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

Johannesburg - The EFF celebrated its second birthday this weekend, but how much of a difference has the party really made to politics?

News24 spoke to several political analysts, and they all seem to have different views on the impact of Julius Malema's opposition party.

The Economic Freedom Fighters get too much credit, some say, while others believe they have single-handedly made Parliament relevant again.

"I don't think they have changed the political landscape," said politics expert Steven Friedman.

"The only way they've changed the political landscape is if there is a split in the ANC, then the ANC loses quite a few votes and that obviously changes various things. That would have been true of Cope as well."

Analyst Prince Mashele said the political landscape was still dominated by the African National Congress.

"In terms of the majority in our political system the ANC is still comfortable," he told News24.

"In a sense, the EFF simply entered the space traditionally occupied by small opposition parties and in terms of numbers they have actually taken from Cope. They were voted by a million voters, that is the number which had voted for Cope. They simply replaced Cope, from a numbers point of view."

‘People listening to Parliament’

However, another analyst Theo Venter, of the University of North West, disagrees.

"They have succeeded in making Parliament relevant again. People are listening to Parliament," he told News24.

"Probably the biggest impact that they have had is to expose the leadership stagnation in the ANC."

Mashele agreed that the EFF had re-energised Parliament.

"If you try to imagine what exactly is going on in Parliament the first thing that comes to mind is the activities of the EFF, it's not what the ANC is saying or doing, or what the official opposition party, the DA, is saying or doing. It's what the EFF is doing. So they are leading in that regard."

Mashele said from a political discourse point of view it could be said that the EFF had redefined the political landscape.

It had taken over the radical, leftist political space which had been traditionally occupied by the SA Communist Party. But because of its position in the tripartite alliance the SACP had not taken it to the same extent as the EFF.

"They have contributed an element of radicalisation to our politics. Outside in and outside Parliament," he said.

‘Nothing new’

Friedman disagrees saying what the EFF is doing in Parliament is nothing new.

"Quite frankly, people enjoy theatre but this idea that shouting the same things that everyone else is saying changes Parliament is rather odd. They are not saying anything new," he said.

"They are saying exactly the same as all the opposition parties are saying they just tend to draw attention to themselves by shouting."

Friedman said the idea that the EFF has shaken up the political landscape was a cliché "born out of no evidence".

The EFF celebrated its two year anniversary in Rustenburg in the North West at the weekend with a rally.

Next year the party will be contesting local government elections for the first time and Malema is confident that his party will make great strides.

The election is said to be the fight for the country's metros, but none of the analysts are of the opinion that the EFF will win any of the major municipalities.

Rural areas, towns

Venter said he believed the EFF would do well in some of the rural areas and small towns.

"I think with a good strategy and resources they can have an impact in small towns," he said.

Friedman and Mashele did not have high hopes for the EFF.

"If you look at by-elections it shows no sort of work on the ground," said Friedman.

"I'm not sure, especially in the major metros, I would really be surprised if they win a single ward. I'm battling to think where in South Africa they would actually win a ward."

Mashele said he did not believe the EFF had leadership projection at a local or even provincial level.

It was a national giant based on Malema's popularity.

"My prediction is this, and I am prepared to fall on my sword - the EFF is going to do very badly at local government level next year because it does not have credible, charismatic leaders who at a local level can occupy the space which is occupied by Julius Malema at a national level," he said.

Read more on:    eff  |  julius malema  |  politics  |  local government

Join the conversation! 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 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

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


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 network.


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.