If the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has any chance of unseating the ANC as the governing party, it should focus on galvanising all South Africans, regardless of race, behind one common goal.
That is the view of political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo, who says he cannot see the EFF being elected by a majority of South Africans into government because of its leader’s “divisive and abrasive” rhetoric.
“The EFF… I cannot see it growing beyond what it is and becoming a serious threat to the ANC or a potential government in waiting,” Teffo said.
He said the EFF appeared to have positioned itself as a party that goes against the principles of the country’s Constitution.
“The problem for me with the EFF is that they tend to go against the values that underpin the Constitution, namely: reconciliation, nation-building and social cohesion, which might not be an easy process. But it is the ideal that we must all work for,” Teffo said.
Teffo’s comments come on the back of EFF leader Julius Malema’s remarks on the campaign trail in Sedibeng, Gauteng, on Tuesday ahead of the 1 November municipal elections.
Malema said poor people in townships should not be asked to pay for municipal services even though indigent households can get access to free basic municipal services.
He was also dismissive of the concerns of white people around nationalising the land, a core policy principle of the EFF since its inception in 2013.
Teffo said the EFF was struggling to appeal to all South Africans due to its “anti-white rhetoric” and should re-examine its confrontational approach to politics.
“Even the ANC has woken up to that, they no longer use that [anti-white rhetoric]. They no longer blame apartheid and the white man because they know that people are wiser.
“The EFF has had the potential to make inroads into the middle class, but it was the middle class that said it cannot be this party that we can go along with. The party is perpetually anti-white because that is not the society that we want to build. We want to build an inclusive society,” he said.
Is Malema a demagogue?
While Teffo said he does not believe that Malema is a demagogue, he thinks the EFF leader may fit the description of one.
“He may not be a demagogue, but you may not dispute the fact that some people might associate him with one. And he may not see himself like that and others too, but he has the potential to rattle the country,” he said.
Not just the EFF
Teffo said the EFF was not the only party that was not focusing on nation-building and getting all South Africans to rally under one cause.
“And fewer and fewer people should be relieved from that type of rhetoric. They want to build an inclusive and a winning nation.
“Unless we work together with whites, we will perish together as fools.”
‘Voters must take themselves seriously’
Teffo added that voters were not being taken for granted by politicians but rather the “electorate is not taking itself seriously”.
He said voters should inform themselves of the different promises being made by parties to ensure they do not “remain vulnerable” to abuse by politicians.
“After 27 years of experimentation and being unhappy but you still want the same people to provide leadership. I tend to say maybe it is not the leaders, maybe it is the people themselves.
“Maybe it is time for people to begin to look at themselves because in other societies such would not happen.”
Additional reporting by Charles Cilliers