10 Ways EFF Radically Changed Parliament

2016-02-10 22:25

Over a period spanning a year, the EFF has used its presence in Parliament to change the dynamics of the nation powerfully. Within Parliament the political party has successfully mixed the engagement of intellect and grassroots social conscience. And that positioning (without a doubt) has made EFF to represent the new age in South Africa's parliamentary affairs.

The EFF is the most youthful political organization in South Africa. Like all youths, its youthful leaders exudes exuberance that says, in bold actions, they have a mission to change and save the world.

South Africa's social force

And so the people of South Africa are entering the second anniversary of EFF being part of the country’s Parliament.

For sure EFF has radically transformed and revolutionized our Parliament in very remarkable ways.

Here are some of the radical ways that EFF has influenced, revolutionized and transformed, not just Parliament but the country.

The First thing to note is how the EFF has re-directed the national conversation of State of the Nation Address. Before the EFF, the dominant conversation about the SONA was fashion, the walking on the red carpet. That conversation is no longer dominating. The real conversation now is what is going to happen inside Parliament. Depending on one’s taste, the fashion parade during the State of the Nation Address can be dazzling or nauseating or distracting. It is kind of interesting to see these people packaging themselves in multi-layered voluminous clothes and walking on the red carpet in order to obtain outrageous attention from the public.

It looks like as if our Honourables entering Parliament are in a contest, each determined to outshine the others. The whole scene looks like a human attempt to recreate a gathering of peacocks. From the gowns that sweeps the floor to the doeks that scrapes the sky the scene is alive with exhibitionism. Why does our Honourables desire to be known for the kind of attire they put on instead of the content of their character?

The emergence of the EFF in Parliament has effectively downgraded and watered down the public's conversation about this annual fashion parade. The captivating talk is about what is going to happen inside Parliament, what points of orders and points of objections are going to be raised.

The Second thing that EFF changed our world is bringing Parliament to the realm of the people. They made Parliament truly a people’s parliament.  Ordinary people are now aware about Parliament and what is taking place in Parliament. EFF has rallied people around their Parliament in a very remarkable ways.

The Third thing is that in bringing Parliament into the realm of the people, the EFF has made people to be readily critical of national issues as discussed in Parliament. EFF has made people to tune in and listen discussions in Parliament and thus creating opportunities for the deepening of democracy. Issues in Parliament are now vigorously discussed at the bus stops, taxi ranks and so on.

The Fourth factor is that  EFF has made the Office of the President of the Republic of South Africa accessible to the people.  They have done an immense tasks in breaking down Presidential issues into easily digestible bites, making the public to engage easily.

The Fifth thing that EFF has done was to sensitize the nation, bring awareness to the fact that ideas are powerful. While ANC can have around 249 MPs and EFF has about 25 still EFF can use the force of ideas to influence the nation. Consider how they took such weighty matter of Nkandla and centralize it within the nation at the country's Constitutional Hill discussed by the full bench of the Constitutional Court - presided by the Chief Justice and live on public TV. That is an immense task to undertake. It is more than EFF being just about mere theatrics as we are told to view them. It is about speaking truth to power.

The Sixth factor is that EFF has definitely stretched our boundaries - our view of politics and what politics can do has been stretched. Certainly South Africa's political ground has shifted quite a bit underfoot.

The Seventh issue is about the conscious decision of the EFF MPs to dress in plain worker clothes of ordinary people. That act from the very beginning was so powerful. It revolutionized our view of Parliament. It changed the atmosphere within Parliament from the unnecessary somber mood into lively atmosphere. Parliament has now loosened up a bit.

The Eight thing to note is that EFF has made other opposition political parties (especially the DA) to up the ante in their opposition of the ruling party, and not oppose by showing unnecessary respect. Respect is key and necessary but it should not shroud robustness and forthrightness of expression. Many think that opposition should seek to inject small scale ideas in the documents of the ruling party.  Some call this trickle model, just the way the DA was steadily working with the Minister of Police on the Nkandla matter. This approach was not sufficient for changing the minds of ANC MPs to side with the truth.

The Ninth thing to note is that the EFF has enlarged and broaden the country's social and political perspectives, in the process  opening up the possibilities of change. Possibilities for change that are far much wider and radical than is necessary for the current political temperament.

The Tenth and the overarching factor is that Parliament is now a marketplace of ideas. Not that there was not such contestation of ideas in Parliament before, but certainly the approaches in competition of ideas is varied and dynamic, sometimes hostile. As we have witness in such contestation of ideas breaking out into elbowing, pushing, pulling and shoving.

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