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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.



  1. Sarah Sarah 22 January 2014

    Except Paul Whelan, you seem to ignore the fact that in SA we’ve had marketisation for the minority and democratisation for the majority (See Amy Chua; Hein Marais; Sampie Terrblanche; William Gumede; Patrick Bond; Adam Habib; Naomi Klein and others – for those who like me, are not economists but do not want to take weighty decisions in the dark). Why do you take transhistoric and transnational inequality out of the equation by making voting only about ‘democracy’?

    Mr Whelan, you have to ask how you are positioned economically and socially to be able to ignore the political (small p) argument here about temporary tactic in an overall strategy for a more humane society. In the shoes of a black unemployed young person in a squatter community, would that be your argument?

    Political democracy, which does not include economic ‘democracy’ (for want of a better word) is simply another way of maintaining the unequal status quo ante – and to invite more turmoil and violence until Jesus comes.

  2. Momma Cyndi Momma Cyndi 22 January 2014


    Nothing is beyond reasonable doubt and life doesn’t come with guarantees. I do, however, like to know the terms and conditions prior to signing the debit order. That is only common sense. No matter how smooth talking the salesman or how popular his product is, I wouldn’t purchase something as simple as a cheap hospital plan without knowing what it does and does not cover. You cannot now expect me to hand over something as precious as the future of my country on far less information.

    A political party manifesto is their ‘contract’ with the public. It is way past time that we held them accountable for any failure to uphold that contract

  3. Paul Whelan Paul Whelan 22 January 2014

    Sarah – I have pointed out for years that the only thing to move SA democracy on is for the ANC to find its dominance challenged. If people are now prepared to vote tactically to that end, well and good.

    However, it cannot leave out entirely a consideration of what the other party one switches to stands for, can it? Bad as many think the ANC are, is the EFF programme either practical or desirable? One suggestion is that tactical voting for them on any scale might send many other waverers scurrying back to the ANC.

  4. proactive proactive 23 January 2014

    To all ‘tactical’ EFF voters, sympathizers and protest voters on their ‘present high’- a reminder & question:

    Are you aware what you are nursing, supporting and voting for? If not sure, than please read the EFF’s founding manifesto below, spiced with history, rhetoric, Marxist proletarian wish’y wash’y, their Southern African empire dream, eventual world domination and ever lasting paradise thereafter!

    Surely, there are different and more intelligent options.

  5. Sarah Sarah 23 January 2014

    @Paul, every antidote contains a small amount of poison. I’m not personally invested in the defeat of the ANC because they are best positioned to turn the country around if they want to. As a tactical voter (hopefully in concert with many others to at least register our intent on the radar), the abiding interest here is in getting the ANC to remember their historic mission. I harbour no illusions about individual politicians or even party politics. Besides my one vote every four/five years I have nothing because I am nothing in the greater scheme of things. A mere blip in history whose only real interest is to live in a humane world.

  6. Phillip Kgalema Phillip Kgalema 23 January 2014

    I will also vote EFF since ANC is killing its own citizen by using police like what apartheid goverment used to do

  7. proactive proactive 23 January 2014

    @Mr. Mike van Graan

    we agree: ”Poverty and inequality are not only political and economic questions; as with apartheid, they are deeply moral questions.”

    Your vote is your choice, respected; you carry co-responsibility for any consequences in future. Bless you!

    You listed several reasons of your “WHY’S”, but also added “some will” & “should the EFF” and “I do not know”!

    I assume you eagerly read and understood “ EFF’s Founding Manifesto” and witnessed its ‘cesarean birth’ and follow its present vote harvesting escapades.

    Since none of your given 9 reasons have any bearing or reflect any direct support to any of the 1-125 points made in EFF’s Manifesto- your blog only explains your protest based on pure personal emotions & frustrations- not principles. Is that how voters should choose the politics of a country?

    If this is not so, can you please be so kind and enlighten me, listing rather 9 reasons based on principles in that manifesto & not 9 personal wishes, critiques & emotions? Thank you.

  8. PEACE PEACE 24 January 2014

    It is the political system that is the problem, partisan politics is appalling , get the right expert, clean ethical record, fully competent and honest to hold the top position in his/her gvt sector that his/her qualifications certifies. Should such a person default in any way immediate dismissal should take effect. The Constitutional Court should be the highest authority , judges should alternate annually to avoid any corruption. Simplicity is always the better way to follow.

  9. Sihle Sihle 24 January 2014

    As young South African who harbours a deep love for this country and the African continent, the EFFs entry into the political fray of this country, I sincerely welcome.

    This does not in any way mean I espouse and affirm their policies. Of the newly-birthed political parties, I doubt that AgangSA has the capacity, political astuteness and image to fill the vacuum currently unoccupied by any of the existing opposition parties, a party that ordinary folk at grass root level can listen to and take to heart.

    Although the ANC led government has made enormous strides in transforming this country in 19yrs of its incumbency, however its safe to say its in a state of decline. This state of mediocrity is manifesting itself in the current trajectory of the country.

    The ground swell of support that the EFF seems to be attracting and receiving combined with the steady growth of the DA, will certainly compel and obligate the ruling party to reflect and interrogate its current internal democratic processes, the calibre of members it attracts and its failure to implement policies that will dent and eventually reverse unemployment, high levels of inequality and corruption.

    Let us not be intoxicated by emotions, anger, and discontent. We have a robust and dynamic political arena. Though Mr Malema might be divisive with his utterances and rhetoric at times, our constitution grants him freedom to express views without the fear of harm.

    There-in lies the strength of a healthy…

  10. fighter fighter 25 January 2014

    kiss the boer

  11. Paul Whelan Paul Whelan 25 January 2014

    When all is said and done, a vote for the EFF is a vote to overthrow the constitution and introduce ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ – the meaning of the terms is arguable, so you are free to choose which.

    Would it be better to vote for the DA to make a protest vote, or for any of the other 130 (I think it is) parties registered for this election?

    These are the issues every South African who values his/her vote faces this time to a degree they haven’t faced it before.

    The good news is democracy is moving on. The bad news is it always takes time. Do you vote for a ‘revolution’ then and start again every time?

  12. Sarah Sarah 26 January 2014

    Thanks for revealing that you are canvassing for the DA and that you use old South African tactics of rooi gevaar to keep the status quo intact. Its your privilege to confine yourself to a politics of fear which also happens to keep white privilege intact. How fortunate.

    Except those who are forced to eke out an existence are driven by desperation, not ideologies – judging by my own family members who, unlike me, were not educationally positioned to become beneficiaries of democracy.

    Only the privileged have the time to pontificate about ideologies while the poor and desperate wonder where the next meal, money for electricity, water, school clothes, busfare, education – life itself – will come from once the balance of the R270 grant runs out. (Most of it goes to the moneylender plus hefty interest during the month).

    Its got eff all to do with ideology, its got everyting to do with (in)humanity. One must be in constant denial to be able to eat breakfast, lunch & supper under a decent roof with electricity & water on tap, transport, income and privileged treatment in society assured until Jesus comes while the opposite is true for other human brothers and sisters.

    As a creative nation, surely we can come up with a blueprint for a humane society? Why must we remain trapped in old ways of thinking? It clearly only works for those who are deeply in love with themselves.

  13. Sarah Sarah 26 January 2014

    The above response was to Paul Whelan’s January 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm comment.

  14. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 27 January 2014

    I’m not a DA supporter in the slightest. Instead of treating electricity and water like manna from heaven, you should instead realise that it’s exactly so-called privilege that ensures a steady supply of both to not only your home, but also to township homes. Speaking of which, you can’t have township homes that are reliable if you don’t engage privilege.

    Basic infrastructure is not some pie that we need to slice. It’s something that humans like you and I – and yes, even people from a township – have to build and maintain.

    I intend to vote for a party that I believe will help people to help themselves in this regard, and not for a party that intends to crop people up artificially to fake back-patting demographic statistics.

    That being said, at this stage, you can vote for anyone that isn’t the ANC. I would prefer if nobody voted for the DA either since they are just ANC-Lite – they’re not fundamentally different from the ANC in terms of policy, the only difference is they intend to implement the ANC’s flawed policies more effectively. So by all means, vote EFF for as long as they have no chance of ruling the country.

  15. Paul Whelan Paul Whelan 27 January 2014

    Sarah – The sad thing is I agree with you and you do not know it.

    The poor, desperate, uneducated and disadvantaged were never saved in this world, and never will be saved, by ‘ideology’. All they have to depend on, and have every human right to expect, is efficient, decent government that abhors selfishness and corruption and does its best to represent and improve the lot of those who will otherwise be left out entirely.

    The discussion here is about whether such a government is presently in power and, if not, whether the young ideologues of the EFF are likely to be the answer.

  16. Sarah Sarah 27 January 2014

    @Garg Unzola. Snippets and even free chapters from books by most of the authors quoted in a response to Paul above, help us to understand the processes by which most black people eke out a living and most white people do not in present day SA. Instead, you argue as if transhistorical and transnational inequality, along racial lines, do not exist. What if you were born into an oppressed family. Would you still argue as if individual township dwellers are responsible for their social and economic location?

    @Paul – thanks re points of agreeement. On the point of contention, I am less concerned about.’who’ is in power, than about what they intend to do about inequality and how ‘the vote’ can corner them into doing it non-violently. Party politics is what we sit with. Citizens must play the hand they have been dealt without making it about emotions and fear.

    Quite honestly, fear of the EFF and a possible much cited ‘Zimbabwe situation’ can be short circuited if privileged people do more to correct past injustices and present compounded privilege which drives unbroken inequality since 1652. It really is that simpleif we want to be the much touted ‘miracle nation’ in an unequal ‘family’ of nations.

    We must break this culture of denial – and Mike van Graan has done a darn good job in this breaking, with others, the conspiracy of silence among the newly privileged.

  17. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 28 January 2014

    It doesn’t matter under which conditions one is born. It matters to have infrastructure in place that ensures you can go as far as you are willing and able to go.

    My point remains: Someone has to build and maintain that infrastructure, whether it’s electricity or water, or educational institutes.

    I happen not to think toyi-toying and ‘raising awareness’ are effective infrastructure delivery methods. Rather, I’d prefer to ensure that people with the talent and the drive to acquire the necessary skills from any background in the country are granted an opportunity to acquire them, plus a framework by which you get what you give.

    Regardless of inequality red herrings, it benefits everyone when there’s a doctor or an engineer in a given community. It benefits everyone more if that skilled professional is kept there by merit alone and not by connections with certain pressure groups.

    Our current inequality is based on two things: The failure of the new regime to develop that much needed infrastructure, and some people who are managing to get somewhere on their own steam. The first ensures that most poor people will remain poor, while the second ensures an increase in inequality.

    There are incredibly obvious problems with inequality metrics, which is why I’m surprised that people still throw them around as if they’re indicative of anything.

  18. Sarah Sarah 28 January 2014

    @Garg Unzola the fact that there are problems with inequality metrics may suggest that metrics are limited. It cannot ‘measure’ or take into account the multiple and simultaneous ways in which inequality manifests; nor the multiple and simultaneous ways in which it impacts on people whose behaviours impact on other people and reverberates throughout society in the form of social harm and social harmony.

    Feminist literature is replete with examples of how to analyse society in its complexity (with heart) – rather than according to single disciplines that are designed to (heartlessly) treat human pain and suffering as ‘externalities’. In this way, the academy is complicit by slicing and dicing knowledge into disciplines.

    I stand with Morin (2001:33) who says that ‘… minds shaped by [single] disciplines lose their natural aptitude to contextualise knowledge and to integrate it..’. He also suggests that ‘… a weakened perception of the global leads to a weakened sense of responsibility’ as each individual tends to be responsible solely for his/her specialised task’ which weakens solidarity as ‘every individual loses the feeling of his/her ties to fellow citizens.’

    Back to the vote. You have to ask which party potentially shakes the foundations of global and local injustice more than any other party (most of whom simply fall in line with a global system that implicitly guarantees inequality along racial lines, while they mouth rhetoric they cannot…

  19. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 28 January 2014

    Put it this way: What’s going to benefit people who are living in a township the most? The kind of skills that helps to transform a township into a place where most people have water, electricity and access to schools for their kids? Or the kind of skills that’s going to tell them how terrible their ordeal is?

  20. Sarah Sarah 29 January 2014

    @Garg Unzola – thanks for skirting the issue. You know that problems can only be solved properly if you understand linkages between them. E.g. the lack of infrastructure has a history of inequality behind it. Infrastructure problems are one manifestation out of myriads.

    If you don’t go the the root of the inequality problem, you will put out fires as a result of its multiple manifestations forever and keep specialists in jobs that they perform as if there are no linked causes and consequences to control for.

    Don’t reduce the need to understand and deal with inequailty in its entirety, to installing a tap and building a road. And do not dismiss the need for thoughtful action … we’ve seen enough unthinking activity that signify nothing in the end.

    But lets stop here. I think you are being deliberate and I am not going down that road with you. Or is it ‘trained’ blindness masquerading as education?


  21. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 30 January 2014

    Hammering on the root of the equality problem is not going to solve the problem. The root of the inequality problem in South Africa in particular is widely known and easily understood, even by recent matriculants.

    The ANC and the DA both are in the habit of perpetuating the cadre deployment/tenderpreneurship model, and the EFF are taking that to an entirely new extreme with their nationalisation model by forcing everyone to follow that model, in theory.

    I merely asked simple questions that require simple answers: Where are the jobs going to come from? I am not dismissing the need for thoughtful action. I am merely pointing out that armchair slacktavism should not be confused with thoughthful actions.

    I am being deliberate by keeping it simple and straightforward. We know there is inequality. We know that people need job opportunities and that there’s a great need for people to own their own homesteads, often for the first time since being relocated by the former government. We also now what drives job creation, since many countries were in a similar boat not too long ago and they managed to get out of extreme poverty in roughly the same time (try Mauritius, East Asian countries, even Ireland, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana). This despite a higher level of inequality in many cases.

  22. Sarah Sarah 31 January 2014

    Eish Garg, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Mike has already written another blog and here we are splitting hairs.

    Yet I cannot resist this: Those who seek to simplify complex problems, are usually not experiencing said problems. They usually have an interest in keeping the status quo (their privilege) intact by limiting the inequality problem to ABC instead of A to Z..

    Inequality dear Garg, is nested (linked to other forms of inequality as violence/social harm) and has nested consequences (social harm begets more social harm) that need to be UNDERSTOOD so that the problem of uninterrupted white privilege and uninterrupted black underprivilege and poverty can be solved. And please, please now don’t throw in the black diamonds and the elite – they have NOT deracialied the middle class by any stretch of the imagination.

    So if you want status quo – vote as usual. If you want a thorough shakeup and possibility of at least a stab at ‘equality’ on all fronts, then vote EFF to scare the other parties into really taking notice of of the web of inequality

  23. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 3 February 2014

    It’s not splitting hairs. You’re repeating the same flawed analysis.

    Inequality is not nested and it’s not an inevitable result of white privilege. If you want proof that it’s not, look at the inequality stats and census stats since 1994.

    It’s important to rethink this flawed analysis of yours to truly see why there is inequality. There is a skills shortage in the country. White people have a greater percentage of the skills set, so you’d naturally expect white people to have a greater share of the jobs and hence income. It’s more important to realise why there isn’t black skills. Part of that is due to apartheid’s design, but most of the blame is with the current government who started window-dressing management levels with BEE instead of ensuring that there’s a steady supply of skilled graduates coming through the ranks all the way from grade 0.

    You still haven’t answered my question: Where are the jobs going to come from? My answer is the skills will create jobs as they have done in other countries, whereas affirmative action policies will only perpetuate inequality within the groups it is meant to advantage, as it has also done in all other countries where it has been employed.

    And I’m not talking about the soft skills whereby one can identify privilege and gender issues. I’m talking about real skills that result in jobs.

  24. Sarah Sarah 4 February 2014

    @Garg Unzola – we both know what you are up to. You want me to give up in exasperation so that you it appears I agree with your shortsighted comment.

    I think you should read the experts on nested forms of inequality such as Wilkinson & Pickett (in general) and on South Africa: Hein Marais; Sampie Terrblanche; William Gumede; Patrick Bond; Adam Habib; Naomi Klein, Amy Chua and numerous others.

    It is simply not enough to use only one lens to talk about inequality (as you are clearly trained to do) when inequality spans economic, social, political, gender and other factors; and its consequences are all of the above (which constitute structural violence) plus psychological violence in the form of historical trauma which is passed down intergenerationally. But then, these are all ‘externalities’ right? Well trained!

  25. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 5 February 2014

    Apparently only one of us knows what I’m up to in that case.

    Suffice to say that if you note Naomi Klein as an expert on anything you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  26. Sarah Sarah 6 February 2014

    Thanks Garg Unzola for confirming that everyone else on the list except Naomi Klein are experts. I’m happy with the trade off which implies that you the argument for nested forms of inequality holds.

    Thanks. You’ve been a great sport.

  27. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 6 February 2014

    Jumping to convenient conclusions? You could be the next Naomi Klein with that kind of logic. And you’d probably take that as a compliment.

    My question is still unanswered: How do we create these opportunities? How do we create these jobs everyone needs? Seems to me that most authors on your list have a haunting sense of injustice but they don’t really know what to do about it. Seems to me that, still, it’s a waste of time to go around playing the blame game and trying to derive oughts from isis.

    Next level: Cause and effect, which I do not believe are accurately explained by Shock Doctrines. Why are East Asian countries doing better now whereas they started from the same or worse levels of poverty than we did? And this with a growing wealth inequality?

  28. Sarah Sarah 7 February 2014

    @Gag Unzola

    Funny how the word ‘job’ is meant to stand in for trans-generational injustice. Its going to take more than a ‘job’ and you know it. Even non-economists can see that jobs are being shed in the current economy. So what exactly does a ‘job’ mean?

    W.r.t. cause and effect thinkingI’ll stand on the shoulders of a couple of other giants . They suggest that we need to ”go beyond cause-and-effect to look at the wider context and history. Cause-and-effect thinking predicts that action A will produce result B; systemic thinking not only observes that, in a particular setting, A, B, and C tend to be present when a particular pattern emerges, but also asks, “What else is going on in this context?” “What visible and invisible factors are combining in the overall system to produce this result?” (Lederach, Neufeldt & Cuthbertson, 2007:12).’

    Comparisons are extremely odious. And w.r.t. your first question, no, I don’t think I am as bright as Naomi Klein so see the irony in a sarcastic comment. I’m assuming that as human beings, we want the best for everyone in the world. And ‘the best’ is surely that we all have enough of everything we need to live a dignified life. I’m sorry for being rude about your ‘training’ – I deserved the Naomi Klein barb. Quits?

  29. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 7 February 2014

    Now it’s my turn to make assumptions: Since you could not offer an answer in this time and you keep dodging bullets, I assume that you truly do believe that you’ve already presented an answer by equivocating over what it means to have a job. That’s not your doing or your lack of ability, it’s an inherent quality of the kind of analysis offered by Klein et al.

    It’s much easier to stick to the obvious: Township without infrastructure. Township with infrastructure. Who built the infrastructure? Journalists like Klein?

    If you had the training, you’d be able to spot not only the factual errors but also the logical inconsistencies and intellectual dishonesty in Klein’s writing.

    Klein is a journalist and she does not have the training to opine on the topics she writes about, so my next assumption is that people who support her conjectures either don’t have the training either or are ideologically motivated not to spot their obvious flaws.

    With regards to cause and effects, you should use those giants as stepping stones so you can scale mountains instead of molehills.

  30. Sarah Sarah 7 February 2014

    ‘In a struggle for power, let go of the rope’ (unknown).

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