25 CHANCES FOR CHANGE OR 25 OPPORTUNITIES TO DESTROY?
By; Sbongakonke Mbatha
Our votes determined who was best. After 20 years of democracy South Africa saw rise to infant political parties like the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) amongst others. Potential game changers?
Amongst the infant contenders, the EFF, led by the highly vocal Julius Malema, shocked masses when it emerged as the third most popular party after the ANC and the DA. When we recall Malema’s bitter break up with the ANC, one of the questions that would surface amongst many would be: Who would have thought?
Really, who would have? It is true that time is the most powerful storyteller because our reality is nothing we ever imagined. Nobody thought that the controversial former African National Congress Youth League leader would cause such a stir in the political sphere so shortly after his expulsion. Many had come to the conclusion that Malema was just making angry threats, blowing hot air and throwing tantrums like a woman scorned by an undeserving lover.
What seemed like a bitter revenge strategy has earned the EFF 25 seats in parliament. Is Malema still trying to settle a score with President Jacob Zuma at the expense of all those who voted for him? Or, does he genuinely have a vision for a better South Africa? Better yet, was he just looking for a proper platform for his idea for change to materialise?
Looking at the long and very controversial campaign tracks that led to the elections finish line, there was one strong EFF weapon that many failed to pay attention to. Under those red berets were young faces. Jackpot! It is one recipe that gave this eight-month-old party political status, giving opposition parties a run for their money.
Malema cultivated a clever strategy of mobilizing the young, unemployed and frustrated. He tapped into a youth that sees no future and are without jobs. Does South Africa need Malema leadership? How will this country benefit? Did he bite off more than he can chew?
Nqobile Lukhele, a 19-year-old Bio-technology student said that Malema is yet to get the country shaking and do a complete make-over of parliament.
“I voted for him because he is a young but powerful voice. Yes he has a rebellious tongue, but us as the young relate to him. Those scorned by the ruling party love him. He saw an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. He came out victorious and I admire his boldness,” said Lukhele.
Quoted in a Mail & Guardian article, Malema said that the EFF is South Africa’s future ruling party. His actual words were: “We are your government in waiting, we are.”
While Dali Mpofu, a member of his party, further mentioned that as a party they are giving President Jacob Zuma five years to vacate and go live in Nkandla or go to jail.
Even though it seems like Malema is the talk of the town, he hasn’t caught the attention of the young majority- a youth that is loyal to its ruling party. Mandisa Mpulwana, an Accounting raduate, said she supports the critics that say Malema will drive South Africa into the ground.
“I cannot deny the fact that I have agreed on one or two of the issues Malema has raised but that didn’t earn him my vote. I don’t want him in government. He speaks so much hate. Each time I look at him I recall the day he cursed at that white reporter. Clearly he doesn’t like whites and he never will. Having him in government will inject apartheid back into our lives, “said Mpulwana.
According to the SowetanLive (online), a female EFF activist from Marikana has been selected as one of the party’s parliamentarians because she mobilized the Marikana locals and miners in support of the party. This woman used to live in a corrugated iron shack and these are some of the benefits she will enjoy once in position:
– R80 000 salary per month
– Free accommodation
– Free flights to attend parliament
To my surprise masses support this. “Viva parliament of the people viva”, the exact words that echo. What does this mean for parliament? Entertainment of mediocrity? Malema is making a lot of changes and many believe that he leads a sinking ship. It is hard to assume that even he expected this turn out. Rebellious actions to prove his point and expose how wrong those in governance are seemed to be the main objectives.
It can be argued that parliamentary status is slowly being weakened seeing that such appointments are being made and EFF leader appears in parliament wearing overalls and carrying the correct articulation to justify his dress code. Questions, lots of questions. South Africa has given Malema 25 chances to answer.