Malema would collaborate/subjugate/exterminate: Why the ANC would be foolish to accept the EFF leader’s ‘help’
EFF leader Julius Malema has made his move, declaring that his party is prepared to work with the ANC as a coalition partner. But he also says his party will 'use the ANC to destroy itself', claiming that the ANC exists to serve white capital.
With some polls suggesting the ANC could win above 50% of the vote and others stating it could fall well below that in the 2024 elections, EFF leader Julius Malema has now made his move, claiming that his party could work with the ANC as a coalition partner.
In a situation where it is not possible to predict what will happen, and with more political players coming into the mix, Malema’s comments will convince some that this is a likely outcome.
It is also likely, however, that it is Malema’s own actions that will make it impossible for the ANC to ever formally work with the EFF in national government. Malema’s comments — first made in an interview with News24 — may even be an indication that he is out of ideas, and is unable to regain the momentum and energy that his party had several years ago. (He is probably not the only opposition party leader in this position.)
Malema’s comment that his party could work with the ANC appears to come with a series of other controversial statements. He said the EFF could “use the ANC to destroy itself”, while also claiming that the ANC was a party that existed to serve white capital.
Malema said ANC Treasurer Paul Mashatile would be a better leader than President Cyril Ramaphosa, who he believes should be removed from office.
These comments are perhaps having the effect that Malema desired: they are starting a period of speculation about who could work with who after 2024. And although much of the attention is on the national government, it is likely that the politics of several provinces will become even more complicated after the poll.
Malema may now say that he is willing to work with the ANC in the national government, but he does not appear to have explained why, when given the option of who to work with just last year, he decided to vote in favour of DA mayors and speakers in Ekurhuleni and Joburg.
Why did he want to back the DA just last year, but has now decided he wants to back the ANC? It suggests there is a distinct lack of principle involved; that Malema is prepared to back whomever will give him the best deal at the moment.
He is not alone in this — the politics of coalitions is not often about principle. As has been said several times in several places, politicians will often “double-cross that bridge when they come to it”.
That said, Malema’s comments may make it impossible for the ANC to decide to work with him.
First, it is unlikely that any party that would be the majority partner in a coalition would want to work with another party that explicitly claims that its aim is to “use the ANC to destroy itself”.
It’s one thing to work with a party that competes against you for votes; it’s another to work with one that publicly says it wants to destroy you.
Also, Malema’s continued apparent support for some ANC leaders over others makes it even more difficult. Just three years ago he claimed that Deputy President David Mabuza was “clean”; a month later, he claimed that Mabuza was “rotten”.
Two weeks ago, Malema claimed that former State Security Agency director-general Arthur Fraser’s claims about the Phala Phala scandal were really the work of former president Thabo Mbeki.
He provided no evidence for this, and Mbeki strongly denied it. Absent any proof, it must be presumed that Malema simply lied about the internal dynamics of the ANC.
So why should the ANC trust him?
It is also likely that Malema’s real intention is to weaken and remove the ANC’s most popular leader, who is still Ramaphosa. If this is the case, then it would be foolish for the ANC to accept his offer to work with him.
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It should be remembered that although Malema is often accused of flip-flopping on important issues, the one consistent strand appears to be his support for any person who could weaken Ramaphosa.
But his other flip-flops do indeed defy gravity. He believed that suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane should be removed, but now he supports her.
He also supported the judiciary during the Jacob Zuma years, and said Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should be removed as he was a “rotten potato”. Now he appears to actively undermine the judiciary and believes Hlophe should be Chief Justice because he has the “best legal mind”.
There are many other examples of this. And yet, through it all, Ramaphosa has consistently remained his target.
(There’s not much surprise there: Ramaphosa was the ANC Disciplinary Committee’s Appeals chair and it was he who sealed Malema’s fate as the leader of the ANC Youth League — Ed)
Malema is not the only party leader to suggest that he would work with the ANC. DA leader John Steenhuisen has suggested — several times — that his party would be prepared to form a government with Ramaphosa as President.
However, when party leaders make this kind of comment, it is also possible that there is another dynamic at play. It is surely an admission, both by Steenhuisen and Malema, that they cannot get the support needed on their own. They are practically giving up on the idea of forming their own Cabinet, or even of being a senior coalition partner in a national government.
And, in the case of both parties, there is evidence that their progress has stalled. The EFF has appeared to make little headway in 2021’s local elections, despite pandemic conditions that surely made the lives of its core target constituency worse.
In a way, Malema may be now where Steenhuisen was 18 months ago, when he told the Sunday Times: “Could we work with the ANC? Yes, absolutely…”
It is likely that we are about to enter a prolonged period of activity about 2024 coalitions. In some provinces, there will likely be contradictory coalitions (where Party A will be in a coalition with Party B in one province and in opposition to it in another or in national government).
Although it is difficult to say now what will happen, it is incredibly likely that one prediction can be made with some certainty: There will be very little principle involved, and most politicians will be looking for the best deal for themselves, not their constituencies. You can take it to the bank. DM