🔒 Dirk Hartford: EFF outflanks ANC as Malema takes Soweto by storm

In a political chess match, the EFF has once again showcased its strategic acumen, deftly outmanoeuvring the stumbling ANC and its beleaguered leader, Cyril Ramaphosa. The recent motion to close the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and sever diplomatic ties with Israel saw the ANC trailing behind the EFF in the National Assembly, accentuating the EFF’s political prowess. EFF leader Julius Malema utilized the emotive Gaza issue, leaving the ANC with no choice but to support the motion. Malema’s ability was further evident during the ANC’s voter registration campaign in Soweto, where he navigated the ANC’s heartland, leaving behind a trail of unexpected alliances and shifting loyalties. The intricate dance between political rivals unfolded against the backdrop of South Africa’s evolving political landscape, symbolized by Soweto’s historical significance and the ANC’s response to the people’s discontent.

By Dirk Hartford

In the past few days, the EFF has again significantly demonstrated its political nous in relation to the bumbling ANC and its moribund leader Cyril Ramaphosa.


On Tuesday the ANC followed the EFF like lambs in the National Assembly in supporting a motion for government to close the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

The EFF made all the running. This was not the EFF of “Zuma or Ramaphosa must go”. On the contrary. 

Deftly using the highly emotive and politically charged issue of Gaza (with all its prominent raw associations with racist apartheid oppression) the ANC could do nothing but support the motion – albeit with an amendment expressing the ANC government’s wish for conditionalities. 

EFF leader Malema, now all statesman-like and knowing he had the ANC exactly where he wanted them, accepted the amendment gracefully.

The DA/Freedom Front etc, opposition benches predictably opposed the motion. All the racial tropes of our society were on full display in the National Assembly. 

Gaza is, and will continue to be, the concentrated expression of “racial oppression” in South Africa today. Fasten your seat belts, everyone.

Malema did the same on Sunday when he and the EFF’s top leadership (including Dali Mpofu and Mbuyeseni Ndlozi) pitched up in the heart of Soweto (Cyril Ramaphosa’s home in his activist days in the 1980’s) where the President was launching the ANC’s voter registration campaign.

As the red brigade walked past the ANC registration desks packed with black, green and gold supporters, the ANC volunteers howled excitedly at the red spectacle.

Cool as a cucumber, Malema and his delegation walked up to the tables and offered handshakes and commiserations.

A young man with an ANC t-shirt on begs the EFF for one of their t-shirts. His wish is granted, and he changes t-shirts there and then.

An old gogo with an ANC t-shirt on says she is only wearing the t-shirt because it was given to her for free. What she really wants is the EFF in power. “I want him to fix the law” she says.

A sad-looking man begs Malema and his entourage to assist him with his social grant problems. Malema, holding his hand all the while, instructs his lieutenants to take his details.

The election registration stations, Malema says, have nothing to do with Ramaphosa. It is also my station, he said. I’ve got nothing to do with Ramaphosa. I am here to encourage the volunteers. He engaged with and embraced both ANC and DA volunteers.

He went on to tell volunteers to do their work, saying there were no areas where they couldn’t work and they must work freely without intimidation from anyone.

“Once we take Soweto, South Africa is gone”, Malema stressed at one point. 

It’s hard to argue against, given Soweto’s symbolic status as the heart of the liberation struggle and of the ANC. Not to mention being the biggest township in SA.

The sight of a handful of red-clad “fighters” inside an ANC tent, standing on tables and energetically leading a couple of hundred jubilant ANC supporters in singing and toyi-toying pretty well sums up the scene and the day.

The IEC also announced what could be good news for activists from all political persuasions – almost 600,000 people have registered to vote online. The EFF is running a sophisticated social media campaign to encourage voters to register online. Just saying.

What about the ANC on this peaceful Sunday registration day? Well the ANC’s Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of Gauteng, was there. The people “have registered their dissatisfaction and the President must listen”, he said.

Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa was there doing his rounds, beaming broadly, shaking hands, being reassuring.

In a poignant moment, he stopped and stooped to the level of the people – a couple of men spinning dice on makeshift cardboard. They offer him the dice, and he throws. No one seemed certain whether he had won or not.

Read also: