Editorial Comment: ANC must harness energy of EFF
THE ANC won the election for President Jacob Zuma. That victory gives President Zuma a chance to make a definitive legacy for the ANC as a liberation movement. A lot has been achieved since the ANC came into power in 1994. There have been improvements in the provision of water, electricity, housing, healthcare and public infrastructure.
By certain definitions, the economy is also doing very well. It is the level of black participation in that economy which is blemished.
It is not for Zimbabwe to prescribe development agendas for another country. Given the backlash to our own radical approach, many countries have tended to be squeamish.
It is nevertheless in order in the spirit of liberation solidarity to make comments on the ANC’s marginally reduced victory for a party held up as a model for the rest of the continent. That reduced victory might not necessarily be a statement about the messages of its rivals more than it is a warning by the marginalised people of South Africa who feel that the ANC has not lived up to the letter and spirit of the Freedom Charter; that too many compromises have been made which downplay the sacrifices made by the thousands of cadres maimed or killed fighting oppressive white minority rule and then finally in dismantling its apartheid pinnacle.
The DA represents a homage to apartheid’s ugly head. Its focus is on the cosmetics which make life look liveable for blacks. It is apartheid sanitised under majority rule, but valiantly seeking to grow its constituency, now more respectable for its black colouring around the edges. The ANC should not be proud of such a legacy; that it gave succour to and nursed apartheid back to life despite an overwhelming victory.
Then there are the children of the ANC itself, particularly its enfant terrible called Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters. The ANC cannot deny their power nor ignore the cause which won them 25 seats in parliament in less than a year of existence.
There are millions of South Africans who feel let down, who feel that the ANC is refusing to embrace the “Spear of the Nation” to take the country forward, who feel that the ANC is reluctant to cement a solid legacy by breaking the concrete wall of economic apartheid, preferring instead to pacify black South Africans than empower them; to fortify white privilege than redistribute resources.
That sentiment might define the relationship between the ANC and EFF in parliament. While EFF might not set the national agenda, it would dent the ANC’s image at home and beyond to be seen to be fighting on the side of the DA or capital in general. For there are two tones sounding already; the EFF’s economic freedom in our life time and the ANC’s gradualist approach.
The ANC cannot afford to squander the energy of its youth defending a system which still wants to define South Africa’s future in apartheid. It should be able to restrain the EFF while using its steam to remain focused.
The ANC should work more closely with EFF than DA on a serious national agenda to cement its legacy as a party of liberation. After all, if it wants to change the constitution to better meet the needs of blacks, it only needs to get the EFF’s vote.
We don’t believe Zuma would allow his tiff with Malema to wreak the legacy of the ANC, unless of course he cherishes the praise from London, Paris, Washington, Brussels and Canberra more than he does that of his people who voted for his party.