The Year of the Red Revolution

2014-07-23 11:05

Red overalls are no longer synonymous with the Red Ants Squad; the infamous security famous known for its ruthless operations of evicting squatter dwellers from properties. Rather a different type of army unit is sweeping across the nation with a mercilessness of its own. Geared in the brightness of red and wearing their passe berets, oversized overalls and cartoonish gumboots this militaristic division of an unmistakable fearlessness has caught the attention of Mzantsi.  They have us salivating; using their utopian promises and 'revolutionary' shibboleth. Some have bought into their dreamy ambitions of reversing the misfortunes of the poor in our “white” economy and giving us, “black”mense, the land which was purloined by the mega history figure, Hendrik Vervoerd. These 'dressed in red' warriors are relentless and nothing seems to be able to stop them. Our disbelief and the distrust doesn't kill the blazing enthusiasm of this firebrand which seems to be directing the conversation of our racial divisions, the economy as it relates to the poor and the legacies of colonialism.

Despite my vagueness, I am sure you are now aware of whom I am referring to and maybe you are one of those now asserting the view: “Why are all these people giving the Economic Freedom Fighter so much attention?” But I am sure that you too who affords to have this unenthusiastic view also suspects that this new political grouping cannot be ignored. Only because its rebellious nature has magnetized our attention towards its raucous activities before elections and their current participation in parliament alway making it in news headlines.

It's leader, or rather Commander-in Chief, Julius Malema  has become the heavyweight maverick politician who has downright defeated those who were claiming to have the upper-hand in opposition politics such as the Lekotas, Mamphelas and Buthelezis. Now even the Democratic Alliance is losing face with their dominance as the main vice of the African National Congress (ANC), as the agenda of the EFF army is now winning the attention of a nation.

If you told me more than a year ago that Malema (who was accused of fraud and other dodgy charges in court) and his EFF (populated by once-unknown highbrow individuals and wanna-be politicians) would be stellar players in our political sphere I would have used the overused cliché and told you to “go jump in a lake”.  However I cannot.  This “new kid on the block” has become the toddler who is a nuisance for his outbursts demanding that we watch him wailing day in and day out. But don't get it twisted; the EFF isn't an illegitimate child. A few months ago, more than a million South Africans voted for Malema and his ideas  of a Pan-African nature. And let's not kid ourselves and assume that these ideas are premature. The EFF fills the vacuum in our diplomatic and apologetic politics with its advances of pushing the issues of land reformation, ownership of resources in our country and attaches its mantra to the plight of the poor.The messaging from Malema and his followers is poignant in our society which is troubled by inequalities which certify the starvation of many.

This aggressive leftist approach has not only been portrayed in the attire of miners and maids in parliament but was evidenced in the party's support for the AMCU platinum belt strike as the EFF donated a few Mandela-coded Rands to fight the cause of the miners demanding for increased wages. The symbolism and actual significance of one of its members Dali Mpofu representing miners at the The Marikana Commission of Inquiry testifies of the determination from the EFF to attain an image which showcases them as 'savers', 'emancipators' and 'fighters' for the poor and disadvantaged.

However, as noble as the EFF appears, they are not known for the “Economy” in the name of the party, nor the “Freedom” part, however it seems they have owned the reputation for being known as “Fighters”. From their first sitting in the National Assembly they shook the atmosphere in parliament by abstaining from the voting of the National Speaker, Baleka Mbete, and with Julius Malema’s first speech in parliament causing a boisterous stir when he accused Jacob Zuma’s ANC for killing the Marikana miners. In the second day of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) after elections, Malema was forced to retract this statement by National Council of Provinces chair Thandi Modise and after he refused to do so the “Commander-In-Chief” was thrown out of parliament with his comrades.This image of the raucous EFF has been shaped by the recent happenings earlier this month when legislature members (MPLs) were expelled for being ‘suited’ in their overalls and domestic workers’ attire. This week the party has responded in its fury and intensity by marching to the Gauteng Legislature to oppose the evident campaign to delegitimize their participation in the democratic processes of the country. All else is history, the cops opened fire on party members and this was followed by chaos in the CBD of Johannesburg.

So, it is apparent after a year of its existence that the EFF is determined and has staying power in our country’s politics. In the past few months, it has shown us that it is redefining our style of politics post-democracy. They are setting a new agenda, through their opinions and symbols, and this causes us to gaze at ourselves, as a country, and concede that the inequalities in our lives do not exist for us to brush them aside. Also, the momentum in which Malema’s party is gaining support reveals to us that the allegiance to the ANC is not a promised forever as “bread and butter” issues are becoming paramount for many South Africans. Especially, those who are surely becoming indifferent to the unfulfilled pledges made by the ruling party. The self-assuredness of the EFF reveals that through it’s fired up character this young party has the potential of becoming a flicker of discontent that may become a fire veldt of a nationwide rebellion.

It’s said and done. Whether we like it or not, this group of “fighters” are here and they are here to stay.

twitter: @jazz2ben  

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