Nicholas Woode-Smith on the EFF’s dangerous influence: A threat to South African politics

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) continue to wield influence in South African politics, and Nicholas Woode-Smith is concerned by their growing popularity. Despite being a decade old, Woode-Smith argues that the EFF shows no signs of maturing into a respectable party. Built on ideologies of Marxist-Leninism and racism, Woode-Smith asserts that the EFF’s dangerous rhetoric and propensity for violence make them a threat to the country’s stability. Moreover, he reminds that the party is plagued by corruption scandals and shares the ANC’s tolerance for looting and incompetence. Woode-Smith contends that it is crucial for opposition parties and voters to reject the EFF and work towards a coalition that upholds free markets, institutions, and the rule of law to safeguard South Africa’s future.

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EFF is not a force for good in SA

By Nicholas Woode-Smith*

The fact that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) continue to do well in elections, maintain undue influence in parliament and local government, and is set to perform well in 2024 is a huge indictment on the state of South African politics.

Ten years after its founding, is the EFF ready to finally become a mature, respectable party? I don’t see how it can. The EFF is built on two publicly professed ideologies, and two background ideologies that prevent it from ever becoming a true force for good in South African politics.

Its publicly professed ideology of Marxist-Leninism is enough to prevent them from ever being a positive actor in South African politics. Marxism is an inherently contradictory ideology written down by a man who’d never held down a real job, knew nothing about the real world, and leached off his best friend. The societies which have adopted his ideas are responsible for killing tens of millions of people in purges, famines, and war. Even today, countries which even toy with his ideas face collapse and destitution (Zimbabwe and Venezuela, notably).

The fact that the EFF thinks that Marxism is at all appropriate for the South African context makes them dangerous. That is not even to mention their romanticising of violent, revolutionary action. A mature democracy would have criminalised the EFF by now for their calls for violent revolution.

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The second professed ideology is racism. While they won’t call it that, their behaviour says otherwise. The EFF will cry about purportedly racist Indians defending their homes against looters, but will defend a song that’s literally about killing Afrikaans farmers. The Human Rights Commission has demanded that the EFF retract statements calling for its members to “never be scared to kill”.

The EFF is racist. That much is clear. But what about its background ideologies?

The EFF is an extension of Julius Malema. It is a personalistic project that does not truly exist outside of his personality. This personalism would extend, like pretty much all communist states, into a personalistic dictatorship if the EFF ever managed to seize power entirely. This would not be good news for South Africans.

And finally, the EFF share an ideology with the ANC. The idea that looting, corruption, cadre deployment, and the appointment of incompetent cronies is fine. The EFF has been exposed in far too many corruption scandals for a party that doesn’t even govern.

The VBS scandal wasn’t used to fund any sort of revolution but was simply a corrupt means to enrich EFF leaders for their own selfish gain.

If in charge of the country, the EFF would loot as much, if not more, than the ANC. Any sort of criticism against corruption thatthe EFF makes should be considered incredibly hypocritical. When they aren’t criticising the ANC for corruption, they’re looting themselves. Often with the help of the ANC, which has been their ally in destroying many coalitions across the country.

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Has the EFF matured?

Ten years later, has the EFF matured?

No. I don’t think it has. It continues to engage in annual riots in parliament. It continues to sabotage coalitions just trying to do their jobs to deliver services to taxpayers and citizens. It has not backed down ever from its racist rhetoric. And it continues to espouse an ideology that has killed tens of millions of people.

Voters need to realise that the ANC is not the only enemy to prosperity and freedom in South Africa. The EFF is a tacit, and often intentional, ally to the ruling party. And its behaviour erodes trust and hope in this country.

So, what should we do?

Opposition parties must steer clear of ever working with the EFF. They are bad actors that will drag everyone down with them.

Voters must not vote for the EFF. Even if a voter is a Marxist, they should realise that the EFF is also incredibly racist, potentially violent, and prone to corruption on par with the ANC. They will not serve the interests of the workers or the poor. Only their leaders.

And most of all, as a country, we need to make it clear that we are sick of being ruled by champagne socialists with romantic dreams of violent revolutions. We need a stable coalition of opposition parties to take over from the ANC. A coalition that supports free markets, stable institutions, separation of powers, and the rule of law.

The EFF’s existence puts all that into jeopardy. And the sooner it becomes irrelevant, the better.

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*Nicholas Woode-Smith is a political analyst, economic historian, and author.