South Africa


Behind EFF’s anti-ANC vote: Julius Malema’s big plan to topple Ramaphosa

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema. (Photo: Gallo Images / Thapelo Maphakela)

Here’s why Julius Malema voted to topple the ANC from coalition governments this week: The party wants power in the 2024 election – even with a faction of the ANC.

In the upset of upsets this week, the EFF voted with the DA and propelled it into government in the country’s big cities. It saw ANC mayoral candidates fall like skittles.  

What was behind this move? 

In a post-election briefing on November 25, EFF leader Julius Malema said the party had consistently said its mission is to unseat the ANC. With a weakened governing party, Malema has smelt blood and spotted a way to the Union Buildings. 

The EFF will not form governing coalitions with the DA, and neither will it obstruct municipal governments where it holds kingmaker power, he said.  Instead, what is happening is a nascent political realignment.  

Tony Yengeni, Sisa Ngebulana, Mduduzi Manana, Mzwandile Masina, Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. (Photo: @juliusmalema on Twitter)

As the image above – from a tweet by Malema a while ago – shows, Malema retains close links with the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction of the governing party. The photograph shows him with Tony Yengeni, the godfather of RET, and Mzwandile Masina, the former Ekurhuleni executive mayor who was toppled this week, among others. 

At the briefing, Malema had inside detail on how the ANC averted defeat in eThekwini where last-minute finagling saw the party retain its heartland metropolitan council. He said that suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule had saved the day – a narrative reported by Iqbal Survé’s Independent Media titles. Magashule is said to have been joined by former health minister Zweli Mkhize in getting small parties to change their votes in Durban. 

The RET faction is open in its admiration of Malema, as Nkosentsha Shezi, one of the faction leaders, made evident in this tweet: 

This faction lacks a leader with a national appeal like it had in former president Jacob Zuma. The EFF leader can fill that vacuum, and while Malema is anti-ANC, he is in truth anti the Ramaphosa ANC. Ramaphosa expelled him when he chaired the party’s disciplinary appeals committee, a slight Malema raised in his post-election briefing.  

The mechanics of how this might work are still unclear, but the machinations are not. And Malema’s voting decision in hung councils revealed the bigger plan. 

That plan is to topple the ANC of Ramaphosa come 2024 by denying it governance of the cities. The party has been weakened by the outcome of the November 1 election, particularly by the loss of cities, where urban power lies. Ramaphosa now sits in the ignominious position of being a modern man of the town and the boardroom who has led the ANC into becoming a declining former liberation movement consigned to the rural areas.   

If the president’s reform drive does not deliver jobs, reliable electricity, safety and efficient water, it’s not difficult to predict that 2024 will accelerate the decline. He will, of course, have to clear a big hurdle before that, a possible toppling by the unhappy ANC branch delegates at the 2022 national elective conference. The EFF’s support for DA mayors will certainly weaken Ramaphosa’s re-election bid.

This all suits Malema.

It is taking too long for the EFF commander-in-chief, as he styles himself, to win national power. The EFF did well on November 1, making a two percentage point gain, but it was nowhere near the 65% win that Malema believed he had in the bag. The EFF ran a more extensive and more glossy campaign than the other major parties. It has failed to declare funding to the Electoral Commission for two quarters, so it is unclear where the money came from. 

In 2019, the party predicted a national win and was nonplussed when it got below 10% of the national voting pie. In coalition talks, the EFF was desperate for a display council to run while it tabled a set of national policy demands. Many ANC regional leaders were prepared to meet them, but the party’s NEC refused, knowing it would crown Malema the de facto president. 

Daily Maverick’s elections analyst Wayne Sussman said the EFF had made a pink splash, not a red wave, this time around and growth would be slow and steady; too slow for a party that sees itself as a planet and not an asteroid.  

According to Ipsos research for the ANC-aligned think-tank, the Integrity Institute, “President Ramaphosa is by far the most popular political leader in the country. Some 66% of the population as a whole evaluate him positively. President Ramaphosa also has a positive trust index score of 38, as opposed to the DA leader’s minus 37 and the EFF leader’s minus 24,” the institute found. 

But that popularity is being tested by the slow pace of Ramaphosa’s reforms, by constant load shedding and ongoing corruption. DM


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All Comments 22

  • It is hardly surprising that all those being fitted out to wear the orange onesies are now banding together to try and head off this happening; it is the flip side of the supineness of Ramaphosa who, rather than acting decisively against the criminal RET/Zuma forces, has rather bent over backwards to try and keep the “ANC” together.

    Time to be Presidential, Mr President – if not for the right reasons (which would be saving our country) then for the more selfish reason of saving your own skin?

  • It is all falling nicely into place for the “RET brigade” – as ever in disproportionate politics voters will count for nothing, only the bid to tip the balance of power counts.

  • One can say what you want about Malema, criminal that he is, but he is a very, very clever politician. He simply has the ability to out think other political parties. Three days ago, Setuma Stone wrote an article in City Press, headlined “EFF masterstroke”, following events as it unfolded on Monday and Tuesday at the Gauteng metro’s. Inter alia Setuma spoke about the voting process exposing the DA’s hypocrisy. And I quote: “Was it not Helen Zille (the de facto leader) and John Steenhuisen who screamed that they would not touch any council position that came with the EFF’s fingerprints”. And he continued: “But the DA’s new majoral and speaker votes came signed and sealed with Malema’s fat kiss, and they happily grabbed the office keys”.
    Make no mistake, Malema knows exactly what he is doing, as much as I hate him for exactly that. He is playing other party leaders as if they are playing in the Football World Cup. And the Zille’s, Ramaphosa’s (and his clowns) and many other party leaders, with their supporters, will off course cry: “Foul, red card”, but the red berets seams to winning many games on penalties.
    Do not ever, ever, underestimate Malema. What he says, and does, are often completely different things. Right now he is simply playing the different factions within the ANC against each other, as he is playing the DA.

      • Agree. Spot on. People underestimate Malema at their peril and loves it that so many white people think that he is an idiot. He is smart, ruthless and dangerous; and will thrive when political parties (especially the ANC) become more and more fragmented.

        • Absolutely agree!
          His problem though is that most of the electorate do not trust him and they know he would be bad for the country if he was ever to gain a majority.
          He realises this, which is why he sees his only path to power as aligning with the RET faction of the ANC. God help us all!

  • To the Democratic Alliance. Get rid of Helen Zille, she’s well past her sell-by date. Some of the tweets she makes, though they are true, are extraordinarily insensitive and stupid for a seasoned politician. get rid of Steenhuisen, he’s not a leader’s backside. Stop trying to bullshit us with fancy graphs that the party gained support in these local government elections. It didn’t. The percentage of the vote the party received dropped. Remember; there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Stop trying to suck up to the Freedom Front Plus and Afriforum. Leave those old Nats to die the natural death that will become them in time.

    • Yes Aitchie!

      If SA has a future it lies in a new party (The Decent Party ™) made up from the saner and honest part of ANC, the less rabid part of DA, most of ActionSA and basically people of all walks that share common values (70% pass on the ten commandments will do).

      • Interesting idea. I like it but will it ever happen?
        I think not. Most of these splinter groups are only interested in their careers and gaining power so they would rather be big fish in a small pond than little fish in a big pond.

    • Exactly. The DA has reached the end of the road with the minorities, who keep on splitting into tinier parties. I would like to see the return of Trollip, a bigger roll for Winde and Dr Mpho & a quick push up the ladder for Pappas. But the more crucial decisions lie with the dithering Ramaphosa. His, and the ANC’s survival, lies in his ability to make the right calls, right now. A split is all that can save them, and the ditching of the comrades.

  • Pressed “Post” inadvertantly before I’d finished.

    Leave those old Nats to die the natural death that will become them in the course of time. You booted out Mmusi Maimane after the last general election because the party lost support. For that reason the same fate should await Steenhuisen. Elect a person of colour who shows proper leadership qualities and has charisma who will appeal to and attract non-white voters; that is the only way the party will grow support and have a reasonable chance of gaining a majority, or at least a large enough percentage of the vote to be able to form coalitions in which it has strong control.

    In cities like Cape Town stop approving schemes that will have little affordable housing, like that which is happening in the old marshaling yards. Fix the roads and infrastructure, particularly the sewage system, in the townships. They are a disgrace in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Phillipi and Crossroads to name a few.

    And finally, Alan Paton, Margaret Ballinger, Leo Marquard, Oscar Wolheim, H. Selby Msimang, Peter Brown, Helen Susman, Colin Eglin and van Zyl Slabbert, to name a few, must be turning in their graves to witness the doings of the present Democratic Alliance.

    • Agreed. The DA as it stands will not make it to 2029, and perhaps 2024. The greatest politician that ever grazed our land, post colonialism, Helen Suzman, fought a long and lonely battle fighting the Verwoerds, PW Botha’s, apartheid system. Her legacy will remain forever in our memory. To see what has eventually become the present day DA, is sad, even shameful. I predict that within a few years there will once again be a major shakeup in our political party options. The DA, to survive, will have to re-adjust, and in the process will possibly merge with other parties, under a new umbrella name. The ANC, also, will have to re-adjust, and I will not be surprise to see a name like “The NEW ANC”. Any bets on who will become the leader? Do not be surprised to see a name like Julius Malema.

  • It would be wonderful if there was a realignment with the thugs and corrupt on the one hand and the (relatively) virtuous on the other, even if there are wide policy differences amongst the latter grouping. If they electorate allows the former in, then we’re in trouble. But I am optimistic that we, the people, have had enough of thuggery and corruption. We shall see…

  • No chance EFF has the skill or patience for a long term plan. In the real world any opportunity to :
    – protect Malemas from prosecution;
    – embarrass rich whites;
    – poach the unhappy Zuptas from ANC;
    – make some cash;
    will interrupt any longterm thinking.

    I refuse to believe that EFF will ever get to even 20% (we will have enough young unemployed left behind people to stir up)

  • Well, now, have I not been saying this here? Beware, anti-Ramaphosa hitmen: you may well get what you want – and we’ll all be much, much worse off. Like him or not, Ramaphosa is all that stands between you and the RET. And now the pressure is on for him not to fall to the RET. While you were savaging Ramaphosa for being “spineless” ad nauseum, the real President Malema was sharpening his sword. Do you think he went for tea at Nkandla, mmm?

    • I agree with you but CR’s dithering is getting the country nowhere and actually playing into the hands of RET and EFF. If he broke away from the ANC and formed an alliance with ActionSA and the DA he would get so much support but then he would have to show leadership from the get go.

    • You are so right Rory!
      After doing my Black Friday shopping today (basically consisting of 3 new towels, cheap chicken breasts for my 3 Labradors from Shoprite, and more face masks because there is a new variant of Covid), I revisited the key articles in today’s edition of DM. This one, the one of Mbeke/ANC press conference, and the last one regarding Malema’s plan to topple Ramaphosa. And was I surprised, but also delighted, how strong the comments of DM readers are. It is like a united front! Of course, I am also a subscriber to News24, but was banned because of my criticism of the current editor and some other journalists (perhaps not using “civil” words in the process). Unless you are a subscriber, one of course can’t read all their articles, as most are “for subscribers only”. With DM on the other hand, you can read all, but not comment unless you are a subscriber.
      What I love about most articles on DM, and the comments of readers, is the massive difference in quality of comments, compared to say News24. But most of what I like, is the way people react, and learn from each other. Often I have noticed how someone will change his or her opinion on a particular aspect, and then make a different type of comment on another article. That is how democracy should be, healthy debate. If DM was a political party, it would be a challenge to argue against them, because of the collective strength and wisdom of its leaders and council

  • Well Cyril Ramaphosa has nobody to blame but himself for being in such an invidious situation. He had plenty of chances to assert himself as the top dog in his party, but mirages of party unity persuaded him otherwise . So here he is surrounded by the cadres , many of whom are just itching to depose him. We wait to see the rest of this tale of treachery and deceit.

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