The EFF’s kingmaker dilemma

Ralph Mathekga

As the counting of the ballot papers continues countrywide, the EFF is emerging as a third dominant party, after the DA and the ANC respectively.

The ANC will most likely remain at the top when it comes to national average after the counting is done, and the DA will remain the second dominant party countrywide. The picture regarding the performance of the DA and the ANC in key metropolitan municipalities is the one that is uncertain.

It could be neck-and-neck between the ANC and the DA in Tshwane when the counting is done. There is no way the EFF will win any of the hotly contested metros, while the ANC and the DA are not yet sure whether they will have sufficient majorities to form governments in Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay or even the City of Johannesburg.

If the DA and ANC fail to win sufficient majority to form governments in any of those key municipalities, then all eyes might be on the EFF to decide if the party will get into a coalition government with either the DA or the ANC.

No one knows at this point as to whether the EFF will be enticed to work with another party. The leadership of the EFF, the Central Command, might be willing to entertain working with parties such as the ANC or the DA.

The only problem that the EFF might have in making this decision is how to go back and convince the party voters about entering into coalitions.

The EFF might find itself in a dilemma. If the party leadership decides to go into a coalition with the ANC, supporters might see the move as a betrayal. Having had a stint in powerful political positions, the EFF leadership could be accused of only concerning themselves with accessing power and resources.

The EFF voters are not the type of voters who vote for their party to go into coalitions; they vote for their party to win elections and be fully in charge. If the EFF blindly marches into a coalition with the ANC in Tshwane, for example, the party might get punished by their voters in the next elections.

For a party that is yet to grow above 10% in electoral support, coalitions might mean an end to growth prospects for the EFF.

The party might start incurring the political liability of being in charge, even before it could access power by winning elections on its own.

The radical rhetoric of the EFF would not work for a coalition government. It would need to be toned down. The party might lose its character if it tones down its rhetoric. That would be the EFF-light!

As for the ANC or the DA, a coalition with the EFF might also anger some of the moderate voters in these two parties. One way or another, coalitions require deep commitments and ability to collectively share the blame when government is not performing well.

I do not think the EFF is ready to take the blame for performance of a municipality that the party runs through a coalition.

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