In the 2014 South African general elections, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) won 1,169,259 votes, 6.35% of total votes cast, coming in third place. This gave the party 25 seats in parliament and made them the official opposition to the ANC in Limpopo and the North West Province.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), 2.3-million new voters had registered to vote leading up to the election on 7May 2014, bringing the number of registered voters to 25.3-million. The EFF’s election campaign promised a ‘radical’ change in economic policy, specifically nationalisation of vital sectors of the economy and higher wages for workers in various industries. They had successful rallies in all nine provinces, where their signature red beret was visible among supporters. Two vital events used by the EFF during their election campaign to increase their support base and decrease that of the ANC were the Marikana Massacre and Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla scandal.
The EFF and Marikana
The EFF announced their official launch at Marikana on 13 October 2013. The launch had been postponed several times and was at one point set to take place on 17 August 2013, a day after the anniversary of the Marikana Massacre. The Marikana massacre took place a few months after Julius Malema had been expelled from the ANC Youth League. Since the horrific event occurred, Malema had forged close relations to mineworkers, forming alliances with them and bringing in advocates to represent their cases. Allegedly police had attempted to prevent such meetings from continuing.
The support mobilised as a result of the Marikana shootings were vital for the forthcoming formation of the EFF. It allowed the EFF to boost support for their doctrine of nationalisation, specifically of mines, which promised higher wages for mine workers, and at the same time allowed the party to challenge the position of the ANC. Peter Bruce, editor of Business Day, wrote;‘What’s scary about Marikana is that, for the first time, for me, the fact that the ANC and its government do not have the handle they once did on the African majority has come home, the party is already losing the middle classes. If they are now also losing the marginal and the dispossessed, what’s left?’. Since being sworn into the National Assembly, the EFF has on more than one occasion brought up the topic of Marikana, placing the blame for the tragedy on the ANC.
Pay back the money
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla Report on the security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home was released in March 2014. The report, titled ‘Secure in Comfort’, estimates that the final costs of Nkandla amount to R246-million. Zuma had initially told parliament that his family had built their own houses, and they had not benefited from the state. This was proved by Madonsela to be untrue. According to the report Zuma is obliged to pay for the non-security upgrades at his home, which include a visitors’ centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, a culvert, a chicken run and extensive paving.
An ad-hoc committee was established in August 2014 to consider the report by President Jacob Zuma on security upgrades at his Nkandla private residence. The committee originally consisted of MPs from opposition parties.However, due to disagreements, the committee eventually constituted of only ANC MPs. The findings of the committee were released in November 2014 and stated that there was no evidence which indicated that Zuma was involved in the security upgrades at his home. Instead blame was shifted to officials involved in the project. Zuma stated that he had done nothing wrong, that all reports conducted on security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead found him not guilty. The allegations that he had abused close to R250m of taxpayers’ money was untrue, he said, since he did not ask for any of the benefits gained from the renovations.
The EFF have remained true to their election promise, and have on more than one occasion questioned Zuma on the matter. In their first year in the National Assembly, EFF MPs were forced to leave after tensions arose when certain members continued to question Zuma about his intent to repay the money. Currently, the EFF has a “Sona countdown Zuma #paybackthemoney” clock on its website.The timer is set to count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to February 12, when Zuma is set to conduct his annual State of the nation address (Sona). EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozisaid:‘The importance of the 12th [February]”¦ is to think of it as the day of accountability.
• News 24, (2014), ‘Nkandla: The President did nothing wrong says Zuma’, from News24, 22 December [online], Available at https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Politics/Nkandla-The-President-did-no... [Accessed: 28 January 2015]
• Shvambu, F., (2014), The Coming Revolution, (Auckland Park).