26/03/2018 05:56 SAST | Updated 26/03/2018 05:56 SAST

Nelson Mandela Bay: The EFF's Power Gamble

"What stands between them and power is one very simple fact - most voters are not revolutionaries."

Mujahid Safodien/ AFP/ Getty Images


By not committing itself to any coalition government, the EFF holds sway in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB), and Tshwane. The phenomenon is known as a 'confidence and supply deal' in the United Kingdom (UK). It is aimed at helping a coalition government to pass budgets, legislation, and important decisions of national good in parliament or council.

The EFF abuses the phenomenon to impose its own policies on the DA. The abuse is intertwined with its personality politics, from which it derived its existence. For example, if the EFF really wants to 'punish' the DA for not voting in favour of land expropriation without compensation, which is one of its seven non-negotiable cardinals, it should remove it from Johannesburg and Tshwane, not only in NMB.

I do concur with DA leader Mmusi Maimane that the EFF targets NMB Executive Mayor Athol Trollip because he is white. Its argument that he chairs the DA federal is devoid of intellectual merits, is the least I can say. Trollip could not take the decision that would have fundamentally gone against his party's policy, namely a property right.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN via Getty Images
South African main opposition party Democratic Alliance Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral candidate Athol Trollip (C) shows his ID prior to vote in the municipal election at a polling station on August 3, 2016 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo credit should read MICHAEL SHEEHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

As part of its personality politics, the EFF dictates to the ANC to nominate former finance minister Mcebisi Jonas or someone of his integrity as NMB executive mayor. It is ahead of the ANC in terms of intelligence-based thoughts.

Having put the ANC in a precarious grip of power in NMB, the EFF will engage on the land modalities with a gun on its head. Once the parties disagree on certain modalities, it will bring a motion to remove the ANC in the municipality. The ANC will find itself in the same situation as the DA. If the ANC really wants to reclaim NMB, it should collapse the municipality and go for elections, as it happened in Metsimaholo, headquartered in Sasolburg, Free State province.

An ANC-led coalition government with the EFF's support will render the municipality ungovernable, albeit the parties are on the same ideological wavelength. There is a deep-seated acrimony between members of the two parties towards each other.

As I have alluded to earlier, the acrimony stems from the personality politics, namely EFF leader Julius Malema's expulsion from the ANC. It did not end with Jacob Zuma's presidency.

It appears that Cyril Ramaphosa's presidency has opened old wounds. Speaking at a press conference hours before his election as fifth South African president, the visibly emotional Malema said Ramaphosa, who had chaired the ANC National Disciplinary Committee Appeal (NDCA), told former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa to appeal their verdicts because Derek Hanekom had messed up the case. Hanekom, who has been on the receiving ends of Malema's attacks, chaired the ANC National Disciplinary Committee (NDC).

Questioning Ramaphosa's ulterior motive to expel Malema from the ANC, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, whose membership the ANC had suspended by three years, wrote: "If comrade Cyril was really the man of the Constitution who presided over a transition that everyone in the world celebrates today, how did he fail to manage what is vividly an injustice against the leadership of the ANC Youth League?"

As if that were not enough, he went on pose another question: "How is it possible that he could have allowed for the utter persecution and conviction of youth leaders for expressing political views, whilst he indeed sailed through the most tumultuous transition in the history of politics possibly in the whole world?"

AFP/Getty Images
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders Floyd Shivambu (L) and Julius Malema (R) leaves parliament after being ordered to do so during President Jacob Zuma's annual State of the Nation Address in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. (Photo credit should read MIKE HUTCHINGS/AFP/Getty Images)

In short, Shivambu accused Ramaphosa of having been offered a position of ANC deputy president to get rid of Malema.

Indeed, the EFF is ahead of the ANC in terms of intelligence-based thoughts. The ANC should have deferred a land issue post-2019 general elections, heeding Professor Xolela Mangcu's unsolicited advice to Malema and his fellow revolutionary hotheads, namely "that what stands between them and power is one very simple fact - most voters are not revolutionaries."

Only a few voters understand historical and ideological fundamentals of the land. Their knowledge of it is based on public perceptions, which often take precedence over what policies really purport. For example, some people may not vote for the ANC out of a fear that it may turn the country into Zimbabwe and other African countries where a land policy has dismally failed.

Molifi Tshabalala is an author and independent analyst.