Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

EFF’s ‘National Day of Action’ shutdown likely to be a flop

Though there is widespread unhappiness, experts believe the EFF and Saftu simply don't have enough clout to make any significant impact.

Whilst there is palpable discontent with high levels of crime, unemployment, and the electricity crisis, experts have doubts that the Economic Freedom Fighters’ planned national shutdown will have a major impact.

Joined by the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the National Day of Action planned for 20 March, on the eve of the Human Rights Day, is meant to demonstrate the public’s demand for an end to load shedding and support calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.

KwaZulu-Natal shutdown plan

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, the party announced plans to have 10 000 party members and supporters shut down Richards Bay harbour in King Cetshwayo region for two days.

The party’s provincial chairperson Vusi Twala has revealed that this includes plans to shut down the intersection of the R34 and N11 by 2 000 fighters, with assistance from the province or national structures.

ALSO READ: Bringing Richards Bay harbour ‘to its knees for two days’

The EFF has since commended Saftu for throwing its weight behind the national mass action, and called on other labour, political, and civil society formations and ordinary people for support.

This comes as the July 2021 mayhem that left 354 people dead and estimated R50 billion costs in damage to economy is still fresh in the mind of many.

EFF’s destructive role  

Security analyst Dr Jakkie Cilliers warned that the EFF plays a particularly destructive role in SA politics.

He said, given the indications of closer potential collaboration between the EFF and the ANC in Gauteng and perhaps nationally after 2024, this presents SA with downside risks.

“They are very good at protesting and obstruction but seem to have little to offer regarding constructive contributions to the country’s challenges. For that reason, they are stuck at a ceiling of 11-12% national support.”

Jakkie Cilliers

NOW READ: ‘No truck, bus will be moving’ – EFF to rope in taxi associations for its national shutdown

He said South Africans, particularly the urban black vote, are looking for an alternative to the ANC, but none of the establishment parties seem to offer that, including the EFF.

“So, there is potential for the EFF but their consistent negative and destructive politics (such as during the state of the nation) is, I think, becoming a liability for expanding their support substantively at the polls,” Cilliers said.

He said people may stay at home during March 20 shut down but this did not necessarily mean they will vote for the party.

Security better equipped

North West University politics professor André Duvenhage said there is a lot of uncertainty on the ground, along with socio-economic and political factors contributing to instability, but the shutdown is unlikely to garner significant impact.

“We are one of the most unstable societies probably in the world, but I honestly do not think we can see the [EFF] bringing this whole country to a standstill. They just do not have the power and the logistics,” he said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: EFF shuts down N1 to protest release of Janusz Waluśs

Duvenhage said the recurrence of July 2021 was unlikely as security services were better equipped and prepared than was the case back then.

He said his reading to the July 2021 riots was that they were organised within the state security, which was in disarray and out of control at the time.

Shutdown ridiculous

“This time security is under control. So, I am not reading the risks. I will not throw it off the table and say it is of no value and there is no need to plan for it. But to argue that the EFF and Saftu can bring this country to a standstill, I think that is ridiculous,” Duvenhage said.

He, however, said what could be interesting is if the Congress of SA Trade Unions could join the mass action, as the federation represent the civil service and could bring key services to a halt.

On Monday workers affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) downed tools, with reports of intimidation stopping health workers from entering or leaving health facilities, ambulances barred from entering or leaving hospitals and cancelled surgeries.

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