The leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, has the aura that commands the masses, and appears to be an icon that represents the voice of the voiceless, particularly the poor. This continues to make him the central figure in South African party politics because he indeed sets the tone for political agenda, something which is good for a multiparty state in order to challenge the status quo of a dominant party state South Africa have long been confined to.
The EFF genuinely engages pertinent issues that have continued to be ignored by the ANC government 24 years into democracy. In fact, some of the issues manifested as outcomes of decisions made by the ANC along the way. The corruption loophole within government institutions has given the party the muscles and relevancy it has today. Many black people relate with the EFF more than ever, one can say more like black majority related to the ANC during apartheid and the earlier years into democracy.
The area of concern with the EFF’s political approach emerges when the party ignores the big picture that South Africa achieved its democracy through the conflict management technique of negotiation, which translated into a settlement between the conflicting parties. These parties had to compromise and make concessions; neither side was able to achieve all their goals. All parties to the bargaining process approached the goal of settlement with their own interests to be promoted or safeguarded and their own agendas to be addressed. This occurred behind doors, not everything that was agreed upon was disclosed to the public.
Primarily, the settlement intended to usher in transformation that aims to transform the political condition in the country from one of violence and destruction into a constructive force that sought to remove the social and structural conditions from which the conflict and violence have arisen.
Any form of conflict management is supposed to bring sustainable peace in the long run because structural issues and the long-term relationships between conflicting parties are supposedly addressed in the process. It is complex to articulate whether escalating racial tensions occur because of perpetual material inequities, or as a result of people being tired to honour the rainbow nation that was established by the truth and reconciliation which was supposed to lay the foundation for equality, or the rise of political populism.
Judging from the EFF statements and interviews by party leaders, the settlement signifies how liberation leaders and negotiators sold out to the white minority government. It is evident that the EFF is manipulating the aftermath of the settlement for political gain. They achieve this by generating renewed dissatisfactions about the past, creating feelings that produce new issues. The recent funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela highlighted this significantly, generating emotional engagement through different media platforms that, for instance, consistently raised a renewed hostility towards white race.
The black majority bore the brunt of apartheid, sure, I believe we can always find a constructive way to confront the issues that are being re-opened. The EFF is going about it the wrong way, moulding the racial tensions by convincing the poor black majority that their social situations are influenced by leaders who sold out to the white minority government.
We should, of course, understand that party political agendas are sometimes about having a successful campaign that will project good statistics needed to win elections or remain relevant. Like it or not, the settlement established the notion that race relations should be central to domestic politics to sustain a peaceful democracy.
As it stands, the EFF is doing little to work towards this goal. It is surprising that the red beret graduates in the field of politics (the powers that be), are not filtering their political knowledge down the hierarchy of EFF powers. The racial tensions in South Africa are not a sign that the EFF is working hard, but rather the provoked ghost of a settlement made prior to ethe 1994 democratic elections.