Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

EFF’s strategy to derail Sona will backfire spectacularly – analyst

Targeting fairly popular leaders in the same way as the corruption-tainted Jacob Zuma 'is ill-conceived and the EFF show will be over before they know it'.

The strategy by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to derail President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address (Sona) with calls to axe their arch-enemy and Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, will not only fail but an expert has warned it could also backfire spectacularly.

The red berets’ rabble-rousing approach against opponents might have worked with former president Jacob Zuma, who was largely unpopular.

But political analyst Professor Andre Duvenhage believe targeting the fairly popular leaders in the same way is ill-conceived and the EFF show will be over before they know it.

The EFF’s parliamentary theatrics were a constant feature of Zuma’s last term but it could have an unintended consequence of the EFF being seen as playing the “hitman” role for those inside the ANC implicated in the state capture scandal.

The timing of the EFF’s drama is also seemingly off as a new study by South African Citizen Surveys shows that Ramaphosa’s popularity ahead of his third Sona was the highest at 61%, followed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and then Gordhan at 28%. EFF leader Julius Malema came fourth at 26%.

“The EFF will find it impossible to discredit the duo and will instead find themselves thrown out before they make any significant impact,” said Duvenhage.

He said things could turn violent because lots of opposition parties in parliament were against the EFF’s threat and there would likely be immediate action to deal with the EFF soon after they make their move.

This comes against the backdrop of the EFF claiming it had learnt of a plot to “smuggle” police disguised as parliamentary protection officers into parliament to unleash violence on its MPs during the Sona.

The EFF has repeated its threat to stop the president from speaking tomorrow because he has protected Gordhan despite the minister’s alleged role in worsening the Eskom crisis, causing job losses by pushing for privatisation of state-owned entities (SOEs) and waging a campaign against black executives at SOEs.

Duvenhage, a political scientist at the University of North West, said Gordhan was seen by the EFF to be the “kingpin” behind Ramaphosa and that their strategy and tactic was to use Gordhan as a first domino to get to Ramaphosa.

He said Ramaphosa rekindled the nation’s hope in political leaders after Zuma’s horror years and that Gordhan was largely seen as the symbol of anti-corruption.

“Gordhan is seen as a symbol of state capture battle and those inside the ANC cannot be seen to be fighting their own leader, but Malema can do it,” Duvenhage said.

In July, EFF MPs were thrown out of parliament after they accosted Gordhan on the podium, preventing him from delivering his department’s budget speech.

Independent political analyst Ebrahim Fakir said the EFF had no moral or legal legitimacy to call for Gordhan’s head as there were no parallels between him and Zuma.

“It is clear attention-seeking and they are getting attention for nothing. If they go through with their threats, they will find that public sympathy is not with them,” he said.

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