Admit it, you didn’t expect the Economic Freedom Fighters to do so well

At first sight, the results for national and provincial elections in South Africa may suggest that little has changed. The ANC still got more than 60% of the national vote (despite its poor leadership); the largest parliamentary opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, did not significantly increase its share of the national vote (it is still very much a regional party governing the Western Cape province, though it made significant gains in Johannesburg); and most smaller centrist black parties (AGANG of former World Bank deputy governor Mamphela Ramphele or the Congress of the People) will fade away. But one new entrant, the Economic Freedom Fighters of Julius Malema (a former ANC youth leader who once was a close ally of President Jacob Zuma) surprised everyone:

It’s 5 odd percent (at last count) of the vote gives it at least 23 seats in the National Assembly.  Everyone wants to buy their election memorabilia and, more importantly, they will now be the “official opposition” in the provincial legislatures of the North West and Limpopo provinces.  They also scored FOUR votes in the white separatist private town of Orania (Google it).  We’ve written about the EFF and Julius Malema before. There’s a whole archive here. Of that batch, we can especially recommend Benjamin Fogel’s piece from November last year: “Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and the South African Left.” Then there’s the work of Kwanele Sosibo, who also writes for the Mail & Guardian. It’s especially his pieces in the The Con: one, on the launch of the EFF and, two, his interview with Andile Mngxitama, who acts as a sort of political commissar of the EFF.

Most recently, there’s Imran Garda’s excellent documentary (in two parts), filmed the week Mandela died, which gets to the heart of EFF’s appeal as well as its current limitations as a political and ideological force. We’ve linked to the full videos below, but Imran (an honorary citizen of Africa is a Country who’s made mischief on the blog before) cut a shorter version on election day that highlights his interviews and interactions (at times humorous, but illuminating) with EFF activists and with Malema himself. It’s well worth watching:

It’s well worth checking out the longer version of the reports here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Further Reading

Our turn to eat

Reflections on Malawi’s recent election rerun, false starts and the hope that public representatives in Africa become accountable to their electorates’ aspirations.

The culture wars are a distraction

When our political parties only have recourse to the realm of identity and culture, it is a smokescreen for their lack of political legitimacy and programmatic content. It is cynically unpolitical, and it’s all bullshit.