EFF, the Background

2014-02-20 16:47

This week the battle has been set in array; for the mother of all battles…

Since the formation of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as would have been expected, there has been a deluge and flurry of wide ranging news and analysis as to the prospects of the party; the motives of its founders and the amount of following it could gather during the national elections of May 7.

After all what has been said and written voluminously, there is still vagueness; there are no conclusive postulations or projections because EFF seems to be a totally different new party that is different to those that have emerged earlier. There is simply no iron clad benchmark of the percentages of votes the party will gather. Added to these are threats by EFF leaders that they are gunning for takeover of government, the Union Buildings not Parliament only.

These perhaps are the reasons why the ANC is not lying down, it has started to fight in all cylinders trying to counter EFF. Already in both parties wild swinging attacks and tactics are unleashed with ferocity; huge funds and weapons of mass destruction are being assembled for the mother of all battles. Machetes are being manufactured and sharpened. Money, religion, ethnicity and other primordial sentiments are being deployed and unleashed to confuse the ordinary electorates en masse.

While ANC will no doubt rely on substantial money in these battles, EFF is equal to the task as it has the talent, skill and genius for utilizing the principle of human curiosity. Curiosity is one of the most common and powerful motives in people. The love of seeing something sensational and out of the ordinary is almost universal.

The EFF will be officially launching its election manifesto this weekend Saturday 22 February in Tembisa Mehlareng Stadium. But it seems that during the manifesto launch EFF is about to get a rude distraction during the day.

The ANC has announced that it will be staging an event next door EFF at Makhulong Stadium under the theme and heading of “Kgalemela Lenyatso” . "Kgalemela lenyatso" is both Tswana and Pedi proverbial concept which simply means “deal harshly with those young people who undermine and disrespect their parents”. Tembisa is predominantly populated by the Pedi people – so the meaning to most people is self evident as to what it means and to whom it is directed, what what must be done.

An election manifesto is about motives and views. What are the motives and views of Economic Freedom Fighters? How can we trace their motives?  Or rather to express the questions in a different way, why has the EFF has within a short space of time swept across the nation – now it seems in almost all Black communities it has a representation; townships and villages – EFF seems to be alive, what makes it relevant to so many people in these areas in a short space of time?

Movements for economic freedom are not peculiar to EFF. We can learn a good deal about EFF by tracing it way back in history. The idea for a youthful political movement solely focused on the economy emancipation can be traced to Friederich List (1789-1846) and also to Ferdinand Lasalle (1825-1864) the German-Jewish economist and socialist.

If we can narrow things down, we will find youthful mass movement economic asserted ideology rampant as far back where the youthful Friedrich Nauman (1860-1919), organized what he called a party for national economic freedom. Indeed the idea caught on and was so successful that Karl Lueger campaigned under it, and was elected Mayor of Vienna in 1896 against all odds. During this time, the movement for economic freedom carried out a most thorough and efficient programme of municipal open service delivery. This movement under the leadership of Karl Lueger proved to be so successful and was rooted with the people, to such extent that Karl Lueger was elected for that position of Mayor of Vienna for 14 years, from 1896 to 1910.

In France, meanwhile, in the same year (1896) that Karl Lueger became Mayor of Vienna, a young economic freedom buccaneer by the name of Maurice de Mores was slain by the government and was given a lavish funeral in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, with the great Archbishop of Paris officiating. During the funeral a rabble rousing young revolutionary by the name of Maurice Barrels made a fiery funeral oration speech, preaching a gospel of radical economic revolution “whose accomplishment no power can hence forth prevent or stop”. He lambasted the established order, he cursed the government, he attacked with fiery and vigor the capitalist system that throve upon it.

After the funeral he organized his supporters to advance a “relentless struggle for economic freedom” far and wide across France and even beyond. The Canard enchaîné newspaper called Barres the "chief of the brainwashers' tribe."

And in 1898 Barres himself, stood for election and he too won to become Deputy in Nancy the capital of his native Lorraine, his manifesto and election campaign theme was, “For Bread and Dignity”. But he did not keep the momentum as his party was severely beaten in the next elections and the subsequent elections.

But be that as it may, the idea was formulated, a tendency – a youthful tendency of radicalism has been sown that we are still grappling with even today in South Africa.

Many revolutions have been carried out by people who did not know exactly what they wanted, but they knew very well and precisely what they were against – what they opposed. That is what sweep people off their feed and off their minds to make them fight collectively against the perceived societal defects. They feel that they are disconnected with the government as it appears to many that more and more of those elected and in positions of authority are concerned only with their own interests and desires, and those of their immediate families.

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