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EFF supporters. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU
EFF supporters. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU

The EFF and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) could receive a combined 20% of voter share in the upcoming general elections, a move that could see the two parties led by populist leaders working together. 

According to the latest survey by global market research company Ipsos, the EFF could receive 11.5% of the vote and MK 8.4%. There are 27,698,369 registered voters in the country, meaning the EFF and MK combined could receive more than 5.5-million votes, “which is quite a significant number of seats in the National Assembly”, said Stellenbosch University political analyst Prof Amanda Gouws. 

According to the survey, ANC support could fall to 40.2%, an untenable situation that could force the party to enter into a coalition with smaller parties. The poll found the ANC is struggling to impress voters and its support base is concentrated in rural areas.  

Ipsos noted the formation of the MK party, which is headed by Jacob Zuma, has halted advances the EFF made in recent years — “mainly in KwaZulu-Natal, with some former EFF supporters migrating to the new party”.  

The MK voting pool is similar to that of the ANC, which is facing its toughest election yet as the electorate has grown tired over the ANC’s underwhelming performance in government.  

Julius Malema — the leader of the far-left EFF who was declared “political enemy number one” by DA leader John Steenhuisen — told Business Day recently that the red berets were willing to work with MK after the May 29 polls.

“We have no problem with president Zuma ... We are not far apart from MK when it comes to policies. We speak land; we speak empowerment of our people; we speak the restoration of the economy to the rightful owners,” said Malema.

The two men have reconciled in recent times after a breakdown in their relationship years ago that led to Malema being expelled from the governing party’s youth league. 

The EFF leader was a vocal critic of Zuma during his nearly decade-long presidency and had on numerous occasions called for the former president to be held accountable for corruption scandals that characterised his tenure. 

Since its inception in 2013, the EFFs electoral share of the vote has increased steadily and it is now the third-largest party by votes. In 2014 it won 6% of the vote and 11% in 2019. 

The MK Party's Jacob Zuma. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DARREN STEWART
The MK Party's Jacob Zuma. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DARREN STEWART

The EFF manifesto proposes sweeping changes to the country, and the economy in particular, including land expropriation without compensation and the nationalisation of mines and banks. It also wants to end private participation in Eskom, including halting the separation of the state-owned power utility into separate generation, transmission and distribution units. 

In its manifesto, the MK party proposes to nationalise natural resources and the SA Reserve Bank, and repeal Eskom’s energy agreements with independent power producers.  

The party aims to create 5-million jobs in five years by focusing on sectors such as mining, agriculture and tourism through re-industrialisation and infrastructure development. 

It also promises to introduce a basic income grant of R1,558, increase the child support grant to R760 (from R530), and increase the old age pension and disability grant to R4,500 (now at R2,180). 

Gouws said the MK party mobilised around ethnic nationalism and relied largely on the rural vote, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. “It’s not difficult for Zuma to mobilise those voters because that’s his constituency.”

It was significant to the electorate that Zuma was a former leader of the ANC, while Malema was also a member of the organisation and served as president of its youth structure. 

Nelson Mandela University political analyst Prof Ntsikelelo Breakfast said: “There is nothing new that the EFF is bringing regarding ideas. What the EFF has done was to expropriate the ideas of black consciousness on return of stolen land and pan-Africanism and they just ran with it.  

“What the EFF has done well is to be able to respond to issues of power outages, youth unemployment and what’s happening at institutions of higher learning.”

The EFF appeals “very well to young people because it is a youthful organisation”. 

Breakfast added: “MK is still a new kid on the block and Zuma has a strong footprint there and he understands the ins and outs of politics. MK is Zuma’s brainchild; that’s why he is doing as he pleases. The party is a vehicle he wants to use to settle political scores.”

Zuma, who resigned in February 2018 after President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC leader in December 2017, has said he has some “unfinished business” at the Union Buildings. 

Addressing schoolchildren in Thembisa, east of Johannesburg in July 2016, Zuma said: “If you just give me six months to be a dictator‚ things will be in order. Right now‚ to make a decision you need a resolution‚ decision‚ collective‚ petition ... it’s a lot of work.”

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