In South Africa, the “radical” Julius Malema would see himself as a kingmaker

The EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters, OrEconomic Freedom Fighters) is, in terms of voting intentions, the third party after the ANC and the Democratic Alliance. With the ANC at risk of falling below a 50% majority for the first time since it came to power thirty years ago, the EFF and its leader, Julius Malema, 43 years old, could be in the position of kingmakers. An opportunity for the leader and founder of the party, who is visibly determined to seize it.

Julius Malema’s campaign seems to have surprised South African observers. Visibly “well financed”, according to DailyMaverick, it was peppered with massive billboards dwarfing those of the ANC in size. But it is the change in Julius Malema itself that has struck observers the most.

Equipping yourself with the stature of a statesman

THE DailyMaverick also notes that the turbulent politician in the red beret (or cap), renowned for his diatribes and untimely outings, established himself as one of the main contenders in the electoral campaign”, displaying a more level-headed and less furious tone than in previous campaigns. THE DailyMaverick even reports that, for this campaign, Julius Malema “toned down his violent rhetoric to present a more thoughtful image,” even trying his hand at humorous outings.

Julius Malema has also softened his political program, traditionally far-left, Marxist-Leninist and pan-Africanist. Thus, further emphasizes the DailyMaverick, the EFF founder did not put forward the more radical political elements of his program, such as the nationalization of mines or banks. Instead, he focused on a program aimed at highlighting local communities or proposing an increase in the minimum wage. Everything is done, concludes DailyMaverick, to establish his stature as a statesman.

An analysis that the Financial Times, who observes for his part that the EFF program has remained “radical”. The British economic daily thus cites the measure which proposes “to deprive the rich of their land, seize the assets of mining companies and spend the profits on education, free wifi and electricity, and 24-hour medical clinics”.

The strategy of the coalition with the ANC

While the ANC fell below 50% of voting intentions for the first time, with some polls even crediting it with 40%, the EFF found itself with 11.5% of these same intentions. The party obtained 10.8% of the vote in the last national elections in South Africa, in 2019.

If the poll figures are consistent with the verdict of the polls on May 29, Julius Malema could be essential in the perspective of a coalition government. A hypothesis that does not exclude the analysis of DailyMaverick, noting that if the prospect of an ANC-EFF coalition frightens the business community, the fact remains that such an alliance is “clearly at the center of Malema’s strategy”.

But, immediately qualifying the title, if part of the ANC supports a coalition with the EFF, supporters of President Ramaphosa within the presidential party believe that such a rapprochement would provoke “an existential crisis” in the party. Because, as the reminder Mail & Guardian for its part, the “Red Berets” party, as it came to be called, was born in 2013 out of a virulent criticism of the presidency of Jacob Zuma as well as the ANC, accused of having adopted policies neoliberal economics.

Thrill in business circles

The historic party would therefore be banking on an alliance with other small parties which could ensure it a majority. But for his part, Julius Malema can rely, within the ANC apparatus, on the vice-president, Paul Mashatile, and the secretary general, Fikile Mbalula.

According to Financial Times, he also considered a coalition with the ANC, on the condition that his deputy Floyd Shivambu was appointed Minister of Finance. A perspective which, according to the Democratic Alliance party, second in terms of voting intentions, could make South Africa “the next Venezuela or the next Zimbabwe”.

It also remains to convince the South African business community for which, ensures the Mail & Guardian, “the ANC-EFF coalition has become something of a scarecrow – especially among investors, who consider it the worst outcome” possible from this vote.

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