Mike van Graan
Mike van Graan

Why I will be voting EFF

1. More than two-thirds of our population is under 35. Out of the parties contesting the forthcoming elections, the EFF is the best-placed party to represent the majority of this sizeable demographic whose aspirations and frustrations will heavily impact on the future of our country.

2. More than 70% of unemployed South Africans are under the age of 35. Parties currently in power at national and provincial levels have failed to address growing unemployment, particularly among our youth. Given its core constituency, the EFF will best be able to agitate for jobs for young people and to keep this at the top of the political agenda.

3. We are often told that our economic fundamentals are sound and that radical changes to our policies will result in the loss of investor confidence, the flight of capital, sluggish economic growth, the weakening of our currency, etc. But we already have all of these despite our “sound economic fundamentals”, and inequality, unemployment and poverty continue to spike. A good electoral showing by the EFF will invigorate the debate about our economic policies and will oblige us to find solutions that really do address our systemic crises.

4. The party of Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela has declined to the party of Marikana, Nkandla and Gupta. The ANC will be around for a while in ruling positions and will correct itself, but this will only happen when it faces real electoral pressure that threatens the interests of its core stakeholders. The EFF’s rapid growth and popularity show that it is the party best able to provide such electoral pressure as it is the party most likely to take away votes from the ANC.

5. Till now, the ANC has been able to occupy the moral high ground because of its leading role in the anti-apartheid struggle and it has been able to intimidate the official opposition in Parliament where it often uses the discourses of race and of struggle to shield its deficiencies or to pursue its interests. A strong EFF in parliament will help to change these primary discourses since the EFF cannot be dismissed as racists or as beneficiaries of the apartheid era; this will help to expose and to concentrate on the real issues at hand.

6. Until we know who funds our political parties, our very parliamentary system is prone to, and promotes corruption. Parties in power at national, provincial and local levels allocate tenders to companies that in turn — whether explicitly requested or are silently expected to do so — contribute to the ruling parties’ coffers. It is happening; we just do not know the extent of it. Neither the ANC nor the DA reveal their lists of funders so that the electorate does not know whose corporate or other interests are really served in policy-making and implementation in the five years between elections. To dismiss the EFF as an electoral option because of the corruption charges against its leader is to be hypocritical about the corruption inherent in the parliamentary political system and to which the two major parliamentary parties subscribe.

7. Democracy, however, is not only about what happens in Parliament. Given our social and economic divides, democracy is also — perhaps more — about who wins the battles in the streets. While numerous service delivery protests on disparate issues and by diverse groupings affirm the significance of extra-parliamentary democratic action, the tripartite alliance has generally owned this space. The EFF has shown though that not only is it able to compete in the streets, but unlike other opposition parties, it will not be intimidated by the ruling alliance. The EFF is the party best able to compete with the ruling alliance in both parliamentary and street democracy.

8. The EFF’s building of a house next to Zuma’s Nkandla compound is an act of sheer political imagination and chutzpah that, more than thousands of pages of copy, exposes the ruling party’s hypocrisy and corruption. Our democracy — already showing signs of tiredness and alienation after only 20 years — requires more such public acts of imagination and symbolism. That the ANC has latterly adopted the red beret and attempted to build a house next to Malema’s relatives in Limpopo, reflects a lack of imagination on the part of the incumbent party. As an artist, I’m voting for more imagination and more chutzpah.

9. I am over 35, I have a job and am part of the 20% that earns most of the country’s income. It is however, morally imperative that we all seek to bring about a socially just society in which the gap between rich and poor is narrowed, unemployment is eliminated, poverty is wiped out and the overwhelming majority — and not just a few — have a good quality — and length — of life. While I may not be part of the core constituency of the EFF, it is not in my personal interests to live in a society that is fundamentally unjust and with such high levels of inequality. I choose to vote not out of fear, but rather for what may now be more possible in our politics because of a strong EFF.

Will the EFF be able to organise itself into a sustainable party with the necessary administrative, organisational and financial infrastructure to build on and maximise its popularity?

Will the EFF survive, grow and have as great an impact should Julius Malema, its commander-in-chief, be unable to lead it because he is found guilty of the corruption charges against him?

Should the EFF win power at any time in any level of government, would they do better than the ANC or the DA?

I do not know, and if I consider all the media accounts and commentary, I probably should be worried. At this stage though, I will counterintuitively support the EFF in the next election as the party that in advocating on behalf of its core constituency, will, in doing so, be advocating for my long-term interests as a citizen.

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