The Roots of Economic Freedom Fighters

2013-09-12 22:41

How did Economic Freedom Fighters come into South Africa’s political landscape and now swelling nationally? The dominant and popular answer is that EFF originates with Julius Malema. But deep sober analysis makes it clear that EFF does not originate with Julius Malema.

In trying to surface truths, one finds that the political, social and cultural metaphysic that now defines EFF has always been there and very much alive as plethora of loose divergent organizations outside the confines of the African National Congress (ANC). All along.

Recall that when the ANC came into power in 1994 the leadership was in majority of cases not from within but outside, from prison and from exile. And they collided and mingled with the local leaders who were much closer to the pulses of grassroots communities. The assumption of office of the democratic government did not dissipate or dislodge this character. People continued to organize communities into protests outside and independently from the broader ANC alliance.

So from the very dawn of democracy in the country there has been very much alive loosely divergent protest movements on the borders and periphery of the ANC. But all along these several divergent formations did not pose any threat by virtue of the fact that they were disjointed in orientation having varying and even opposing ideological thrusts mostly with no single focus. But they remained active and fledgling force - we all experienced them through the high number of community protests and marches that were independent standing up against the entire ANC apparatus.

But they were not consistent and sustaining enough to be a lasting durable fire force. They operated like a primus paraffin stove that needs constant pumping.  The primus stove consists of a paraffin tank at the base, above which is a “rising tube” and the burner assembly. A steel top ring on which to set a pot is held above the burner by three support legs. Once heated, the tank is pressurized by means of a small hand pump integrated into the tank, which forces the paraffin from the tank up through the rising tube through the ascending pipe to the pre-heated burner head, where the paraffin is heated and vapourized. The paraffin vapour is sprayed through a jet in the middle of the burner, where it mixes with air and burns in a blue flame. It is a laborious and time consuming activity to use a primus paraffin stove. It was simply not sustainable.

But when Julius Malema fell outside the ANC he fell on the midst of these active protest formations and he gave them a much needed breakthrough, a much needed reset. The emergence of Julius Malema into the midst of these independent formations gave them language, symbolism, form and a visible super Champion, a recognized national leader who demonstrate superior messaging skills and powerful charismatic speech making - daring oratory acumen.

That was the missing link all along...

Julius Malema rapidly reinvented and rest all these varying independent community formations with a dazzling array of new symbolism – most distinguished being the galvanizing red beret that provides a quick communication capacity and thrusts. Further Julius Malema’s sentiments and strong passion for political mass mobilization touched a deep cord across. It made these formations achieve their highest aspirations and potential as a formidable united political powerhouse that has no risk of dismantling or disintegrating.  Those are the roots.

Having traced the roots of EFF, the second thing to consider is its methods of operations. The method of operation, its mechanics is informed by its origin and roots. EFF can be considered as a swarm of bees. Biologists who have studied the collective intelligence of insect colonies like swarm of bees provide the inspiration to study EFF phenomenon in its approach and operations. Swarms of bees are a group of bees with collective intelligence and each bee is free to take action on her own following simple party (swarm) guidelines. With this – staggering complex situations are mastered that benefit the collective.

This is what is called swarm intelligence.

Deborah M. Gordon, a biology professor at Stanford University in the United States of America has spent many years digging all kinds of ants in the deserts to try to understand the chemical, genetic and behavioral codes of ant colonies; "If you watch an ant (or bee) tries to accomplish something, you'll be impressed by how inept it is”, she once wrote. A colony can solve problems unthinkable for individual bees, such as finding the shortest path to the best food source, allocating workers to different tasks, or defending a territory from enemy attacks. As individuals, bees might be tiny dummies, but as colony they respond quickly and effectively to their environment.

After all that is in essence what defines politics. Politics involves all the network of forces and cross-pollination of factors that go into the courting, marrying and latchment to the epicentres of power, in any socio-political matrix or socio-economic configuration.


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