A political analyst who is a professor based at Unisa says despite the Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF’s) laudable performance in parliament in the past five years and contribution to the transformation agenda, in the past three months the red berets’ brand has taken a knock, and that is thanks to its commander-in-chief (CiC) Julius Malema.
“This racial discourse where the anti-racist uses racial categories ending up himself [Malema] sounding racist is exactly what I’m opposed to. Don’t take part in a discussion that ultimately will widen the wedge or gap between black and white [people],” Professor Lesiba Teffo said on Radio 702.
The professor adds his voice to a chorus of media commentators and political analysts who have been critical of Malema’s racial comments.
The leader of the EFF told attendees of the party’s election registration campaign last month that the organisation had taken the decision to remove Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Democratic Alliance (DA) mayor Athol Trollip because of the colour of his skin.
Malema further said the move to oust Trollip was an act by the party of “cutting the throat of whiteness”.
The EFF in NMB tabled a motion of no confidence in Trollip following Malema’s decision to punish the DA for not supporting the red berets’ parliamentary motion on land expropriation with no compensation.
The two parties were part of the coalition that governed the NMB metropolitan following the 2016 local government elections.
Two special council meetings that sat to debate the motion of no confidence in Trollip have collapsed, with the last meeting on Tuesday suspended indefinitely with the agenda item of having the DA mayor removed not discussed.
Weeks before the NMB special council meeting to debate the motion, Trollip and Malema engaged in a heated Twitter war in which Malema said he had no “no sympathy for whiteness” and that it felt “so good for a black child to determine the future of the white one”.
The criticism levelled against Malema for his “racist” commentary has led to many columnists describing him and the EFF as fascist.
Teffo said the motion of no confidence in Trollip so as to punish the DA for opposing its parliamentary motion had been an act of political expediency because if the EFF were to come into power it would not implement the policy of land expropriation without compensation.
“The reality is we are living in an age of pragmatism, not of ideologies and ideologues, so given that, the ANC succumbed to the pressure of the EFF, they didn’t believe in that hence they exculpate when they talk about it yet they voted for it in parliament,” the professor said.
The ANC, Agang SA, the National Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement, the African People’s Convention, and the Inkatha Freedom Party, which stated it would only support the motion on condition that land held in trust by traditional leaders will not be considered for redistribution, voted in favour for the EFF parliamentary motion, with 241 parliamentarians voting yes as opposed to 83 who voted no.
The African Christian Democratic Party, Congress of the People, Freedom Front Plus and the DA had fiercely opposed the motion.
Professor Teffo said Malema’s comments were not only negatively affecting the EFF, but were also sowing racial divisions in the country’s society.
“I noted the fact that last week he is beginning to be responsive, the commander in-chief, to the criticism or the backlash that he is suffering now based on this anti-white sentiment,” he said.
The professor said if Malema did not tone down his racial comments then the EFF would be consigned to history.
Teffo said Trollip was a capable and affable leader whose brand of leadership should be replicated throughout the country.