- Social media praised Julius Malema for starting the EFF at a young age
- Many users, however, argued that although his accomplishments are impressive, his ideologies and actions are not
- They argued that the EFF would have been more effective as a civil society organisation
South Africans may not all agree with Julius Malema’s controversial statements and brash, unapologetic attitude, but we can all agree that the former ANC Youth League president can boast some pretty impressive political accomplishments.
Malema has achieved what few South African politicians have come close to. He has created a political party that can rival the ANC and in doing so, he has brought the country one (albeit tiny) step closer to a democracy in which more than two major parties compete, Briefly.co.za found.
Malema was actively involved in politics at a young age. He led the country’s youth under the ANC. When he broke away from the ruling party and formed the Economic Freedom Fighters, he was only 32 years old.
It took him and his comrades six years to build a major party that rivals a party that brought us democracy (ANC) and a party that is rooted in the pre-apartheid era (DA).
The EFF’s major selling-point isn’t that it can rival the political giants, ANC and DA, but that it offers an alternative to the neoliberal democracy.
Its communist-leaning ideologies and manifesto set the EFF apart from other competing parties, despite the EFF and its members displaying clear capitalist tendencies of corruption and manipulation of the working-class masses.
Social media user, Bongezile Radebe, expressed her respect for the leader and the party, adding that the EFF’s story is inspirational to her as a young person in the country.
Social media users agreed but only to a certain extent. They said that the EFF’s value lies less in its potential as the ruling party of South Africa, but in its capacity to speak up for the marginalised people, and in holding leaders and institutions to account.
Although theoretically the EFF provides South Africans with an alternative to the major contenders, ANC and DA, it shares similarities with the parties.
Like the ANC, its leaders (Malema included) have been implicated in major corruption scandals, and like the DA, it has been criticised for inciting racial disparity in the country.
Many users disagreed with Bongekile’s view that the EFF is a strong opposition to the ruling parties, asserting that 6% is not “strong.”
In response, Bongekile noted that in the context of South Africa’s political landscape, the minuscule figure holds some advantage.
“[B]ut with close to 600 registered political parties, and over 50 currently represented at a national level, the guy, in his infancy, isn’t doing too bad...all the best with your decision on who to vote for,” Bongekile wrote.
Other users had an entirely different opinion. While it is impressive how Malema climbed his way to a higher position of the political food chain, he did so using the same problematic tactics used by other established politicians. Although the youth listen to him, they may not trust him, as one Twitter user suggests.
Users suggested that Malema’s success came from identifying that he had a group of South Africans (youth) listening to him, owing to his previous position as ANC youth leader.
He then exploited this advantage by positioning himself as the politician who understands the youth and the poor.
Social media users pointed out that while loudly advocating for protection for the working classes and unemployed youth, Malema and the EFF continued to fill their pockets and educate themselves.
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