Ann Bernstein and Trudi Makhaya on the Economic Freedom Fighters

21 Nov 2014

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At a recent event hosted by SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in which we explored “left, right and centre” views on South Africa’s economic development, a journalist snuck in a question about the panel’s views on the Economic Freedom Fighters.

It was interesting to hear what Ann Bernstein of the Centre for Development and Enterprise and Trudi Makhaya, economic analyst at eNCA Africa, had to say about the new political party.

Bernstein argued that while the media has fallen in love with the drama and spectacle of the EFF, she personally, was puzzled by the party.

Makhaya said that she was intrigued by black middle class professionals who voted for the EFF and what that means about the need for alternatives. Makhaya referred to the EFF’s manifesto as “plain vanilla”.

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Barry Saayman
21 Nov

Race denialism vs non-racialism

>>"Bernstein argued that while the media has fallen in love with the drama and spectacle of the EFF, she personally, was puzzled by the party."

Me Bernstein is clearly not yet up to date with the contents of the EFF Founding Manifesto of Jul 25, 2013 or the EFF Election Manifesto of February 22 2014.

The founding manifesto describes the reality experienced on ground-level succinctly-

"Essentially, the post-1994 government, which has been given an overwhelming mandate to turn political power into total economic emancipation, has in effect rendered the majority of the people a powerless majority by stripping away all revolutionary content from the political power it holds...The post-1994 government has maintained the apartheid and white-supremacist state, with the consequence that the majority, in effect, have become a voting, but powerless, majority."

In retrospect, and given the contents of the EFF manifestos, it should not be a surprise to anyone that the EFF obtained 6.4% of the vote. The prevailing zeitgeist in South Africa is basically revolutionary / confrontational of nature and political / labour formations that don't cater for this basic need of the electorate will lose traction.

The EFF is founded on solid ideological foundations (Freedom Charter of 1955 and the NDR) and must be expected to grow substantially even if they struggle to overcome the usual internal organisational challenges and power-struggles facing any new party.

What more date does one need to identify the trajectory / direction in which the "EFF phenomenon" will most probably develop?

>> "Makhaya said that she was intrigued by black middle class professionals who voted for the EFF and what that means about the need for alternatives."

Dr Steven Friedman is in my view correct. (South Africa's Real Ticking Time Bomb: The Black Middle Class - SACSIS, 3 Jun 2014.) The racial integration in among others multi-racial and multi-cultural workplaces, including universities, is problematic to say the least about it.

Africanisation and indigenisation on the one hand alienates minorities and a lack of "transformation" that frustrates black advancement should be expected to infuriates black middle class semi-professionals and professionals.

Black professors, in particular female black professors, are e.g. still a rarity and the white incumbents are clearly overstaying their welcome. Employment Equity should have made a bigger impact in the private sector and universities. It basically failed and new measures are required to create capacity for redress and the advancement of previously disadvantaged South Africans.

Race, rising inequality, homelessness, unemployment and poverty are ticking time-bombs in a loaded atmosphere and we better face this reality and find solutions before it is too late.

And the guilty conscience of the new black middle-class that don't have the time or the money to uplift the millions of rural and township dwellers they left behind is also compelling them - they must hate the idea to be regarded as "coconuts" and therefore legitimate co-targets of the National Democratic Revolution.

One must unfortunately expect Anglo American liberals to deny these realities. It doesn't suit them to admit that race denialism failed and that their concept of "non-racialism" means actually that they should in their opinion, be unchallenged and ad infinitum, enjoy honorary positions on top of the pecking order in South African society. Some may even reason that it is just reward for services rendered. They are in terms of the Karpman Drama Triangle, in their own eyes, the rescuers of the black people of South Africa whilst actually practicing the repulsive cultural assimilation associated with supremacists.

>>"Makhaya referred to the EFF's manifesto as 'plain vanilla'."

To me there is nothing basic or ordinary about revolution. South African society is already a very violent society and if the feelings and aspirations, whether treasonable or unreasonable, of people are disrespected much longer, one must expect more violence and conflict.

I most certainly hate my own thoughts in this regard but that is unfortunately what I observe.

Accepting that we have a problem preferably before we hit rock-bottom, is the first step in finding a solution, if there is in fact one.

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