by Siza Sopapaza

Election watch

It's Malema's party

Julius Malema's political party, the EFF is now official
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The IEC has officially informed the Economic Freedom Fighters that the application EFF submitted for registration as a political party has been approved. 

The next general election will be held on a date in April to elect a new National Assembly, as well as new provincial legislatures in each province. It will be the fifth quinquennial election held under conditions of universal adult suffrage since the end of the apartheid era in 1994.

The commander-in-chief of the recently formed political forum, the Economic Freedom Fighter, and erstwhile president of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema, released a media statement informing the nation that the EFF had been registered as a political party.

The formation of the EFF has injected some element of excitement among citizens whom I have never heard utter a word about the country's body politic. Suddenly we all want to speculate about the EFF's prospects come next year. That curiosity obviously has little to do with politics, per se. Be that as it may, Malema seems poised to milk it for all it's worth.

“The approval means that EFF will contest the general elections in 2014 and the local government elections. The approval of EFF means that this radical economic emancipation movement will have public representatives in all the national and provincial legislatures from 2014 onwards.

“The registration of EFF as a political party is a historic moment and beginning of real radical, militant and decisive political programme which will lead to real emancipation of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world.

“EFF will be the government of South Africa and will lead a thorough going economic emancipation programme contained in our movement's founding manifesto.

“The people of South Africa should now take a sigh of relief that a giant movement of the people, a fighting force for change, a radical, militant, innovative and determined organisation is now going to be an option to all the existing political parties, which have collectively failed to transform South Africa.

“The people of Africa should appreciate that now a movement of the people which will champion the interests of the African people, including through leading an aggressive economic decolonisation programme through massive development and industrialisation programme will soon be government of South Africa.

“The oppressed and exploited people of the world should now expect real anti-imperialist actions and political programme which will practically and programmatically undermine neoliberalism and global capitalism,” the statement reads.

The registration of a political party is not a world altering event in itself, and it would be reassuring if Malema did not believe his own spin in this regard.

The Mail and Guardian reported that the new party's registration was delayed because the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) had complained to the IEC and asked the body to decline the application of Malema on constitutional grounds.

"The EFF propagates the nationalisation of land, mines, banks and other assets without compensation, and, in particular, on a racial basis. It is unconstitutional," FF+ chairperson, Pieter Groenewald is quoted as saying.

According to the M&G, Groenewald said Malema had not shown remorse and would continue his "unconstitutional actions" by using the EFF as a vehicle for discriminatory actions and policies.

The party was forced to postpone its official launch, planned to take place in Marikana, North West, due to the incomplete process at the IEC.

Earlier a banner headline in Alec Hogg's BizNewz website declared: “Julius Malema’s EFF is well named – policies FIGHT economic freedom, would destroy South African economy”.

The headline was for an interview Hogg had with author, thinker and the executive vice president of international programmes at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Tom Palmer.

He had been invited by the Free Market Foundation to South Africa for a “rational assessment of the economic policies advanced by Malema’s fledgling organisation”.

Hogg says Palmer's conclusions, backed by historical fact, make chilling reading for anyone contemplating life in South Africa under a president Malema.

“Starvation, wretchedness, ruination. Russia of the Stalin Age; China during the 'great leap forward',” Hogg says.

In the introduction for the interview Hogg scantly minces his words: “All that evil requires to flourish is for good men to stand by and do nothing. Ignorance has the same consequence, blossoming when illogical prattle is propagated without challenge. Which seems to be happening right now with former ANC Youth League Leader Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters political party. As Germany did to its eternal cost with Adolf Hitler, when his Nazis were gathering momentum the educated folk wrote him off as a joke unworthy of dignifying with discussion. How different history might have been had the warped ideals of Mein Kampf been tackled rationally and methodically rather than ignored.”

Asked about his thoughts on EFF's policies (manifesto), Palmer had this to say: “Well, I read it and have investigated their programme. First thing I would say is: this is not about promoting economic freedom. And in fact their name is appropriate; they’re fighting economic freedom so the name Economic Freedom Fighters is perfectly appropriate.

“Crime fighters fight crime, firefighters fight fire and Economic Freedom Fighters apparently fight economic freedom.

“The programme they’ve laid out is really an assault in my opinion on the working people in South Africa and on the unemployed, because it means that they will have authentic wretchedness. “Looking at the program I think it’s a reasonable prediction if they were to get into power this country would realise, within 10 years, actual famine.

“And by famine I don’t mean just a minor diminution in their well-being, but real hunger and starvation.

“We’ve seen before these kinds of massive land-grabs by the state in other countries and the consequence is starvation.”

Palmer's conclusions are that our newfound hunger for knowledge and the ease with which populations gain access to that knowledge will be the nails in the EFF coffin.

“There’s a young generation of people across the continent. They have cell phone telephony and Smart Phones. The cost of Smart Phones has collapsed. Young people can afford them and they can see how the world works. They don’t have to just get filtered information from their leaders. These young people are demanding a change. There’s a big movement across Africa – the Students for Liberty movement. In Kenya I was at a big conference. In Nigeria – hundreds of young African people saying ‘we want free markets. We want opportunity and we don’t want to enrich cronies or further their grip on power by giving them all these economic assets through the state’. So I’m genuinely quite bullish about Africa because it’s the young people, that 16-25 demographic that I think are going to change,” he said.

'Older' parties have already started campaigning for next year's general election, while the babies are hardly crawling, but the EFF, it seems, has grabbed the attention of the business sector. And, it seems, that's not due to its cute rosy cheeks.

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