EFF and their one hit wondersim

2016-02-24 06:40

The EFF''s performance at SONA 2016  may be explained in the following analogy.

Missing out of school due to a teacher’s strike is always fun. As a scholar one longs for those days. As a result homework does not have to be completed and more time can be spent with friends. However, If the protest continues for several days boredom sets in at which point there is a desire for normality to prevail. For many South Africans, the EFF’s parliamentary political strategy has resonance with the above analogy. One ANC parliamentarian dubbed it as ‘a one hit wonder’ while another called them delinquents. Other parties decried their behaviour.  I am referring to the EFF's performance during the 2016 State of the Nation address and the Honourable Malema’s decision to leave the SONA debate after his rebuttal. For those who were perhaps unaware, they caused an hour long delay and Malema after his rebuttal together with his colleagues left the national assembly as a form of protest. One may call it parliamentary protest politics.

The EFF, upon winning seats in parliament after the 2014 general elections, promised to transform the nature of parliamentary politics. Indeed they have! For instance, they wear overalls in parliament. A total opposite from Westminster formal dress code. They deserve to be applauded for creating relevance for the millions of workers in South Africa. In addition it debunks the colonialist project which creates a perception of supremacy. They created interest in the legislation especially after they launched the ‘#paybackthemoney campaign.’ Forget about Generations or keeping up with the Kardashians the new favourite programme  was the parliamentary channel. We were disappointed when Juju was not in parliament because that would suggest a dull parliamentary sitting. At one period the EFF was as seen as the de facto opposition party in parliament. Whenever the president came to account to the national assembly we were certain that the EFF was going to chant #paybackthemoney. We appreciated it because the president needs to account and at that point was defiant. Parliament was to be perceived as a place of protest and decorum was to take ‘several seats.’ On one occasion the DA also joined the parliamentary protesting by walking out of the presidents SONA and COPE recently did the same thing.

Interestingly, the public did not give as much support for the #ZuptaMustFall (although legitimate) performance as they did the #PayBackTheMoney. May that suggest that we are tired of it? In addition, it gave the Honourable Maimane an edge. Mmusi with a sense of authority and statesman like lamented the antics of the EFF to the speaker. He requested Mbete to proceed with the business of parliament. She sustained the order.  The president’s SONA was arguably his best deliverance since taking up office. Concerning SONA, social media statistics revealed a greater degree of negativity on twitter when the EFF engaged in the protests. Surprisingly the most positive response was during the president’s speech. Juju and company  for the first time acted like a group not reading the political climate correctly.

President Zuma in his SONA debate reply stated that he appreciated the Maimane’s comments concerning the EFF’s antics. There was a reconciliatory tone. The opposition although disregarding the president’s legitimacy decided to stay in a parliament because it is their constitutional duty. The EFF’s strategy of absenteeism is based on the fact that they do not regarded Zuma as a legitimate president. It is flawed when considering other opposition parties also do not but continue their work. It creates a perception that the EFF is not fulfilling their constitutional obligation. It may work if a trick is pulled occasionally but not if it becomes a norm. The EFF needs to manage the complexities of  the work of parliament from the politics of parliament. That's  If it wants to be perceived as a more serious threat to both the DA and ANC.  They must  create a balance between protest politics and the actually duty of parliament.

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