While Julius Malema’s EFF is patting itself on the back for setting the national agenda this year, particularly on the issue of expropriation of land without compensation, 2018 has been noted for highlighting the party’s chameleon-style politics.
Much like its enigmatic leader, Malema, the five-year-old party won the governance of the student leadership at several tertiary institutions this year, but let down many when its name came up as one of the looters of the VBS bank.
The EFF has lived up to the saying that there are no permanent friends in politics.
It changed its posture several times on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, former SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane and its coalition partners the DA.
The red berets rallied behind Gordhan previously when he was under pressure from former president Jacob Zuma, his supporters and the Hawks. But, things changed quickly this year when the EFF declared Gordhan an enemy and demanded that he step down.
Last month the EFF revealed that its plan was to “crush Gordhan’s corruption”, which involved white monopoly capital.
“There was never love between the EFF and Pravin. We were dealing with Zuma’s corruption, which he wanted to speed up during the removal of Pravin. We said: ‘We are not going to allow you, [Zuma].’ We successfully removed him,” Malema said.
But the wrangle between Gordhan and the EFF deepened when they opened countercharges against each other at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria.
Gordhan laid charges of incitement of violence and criminal defamation against Malema.
The EFF opened a case of money laundering, corruption, racketeering, fraud, contravention of the National Strategic Intelligence Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and perjury.
There was a fallout between the EFF and DA when the DA opposed the red berets’ motion of expropriation of land without compensation.
The National Council of Provinces had already agreed that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to make expropriation of land without compensation more explicit.
Tension between the EFF and DA was evident also when the red berets defended outgoing Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille following months of embittered mud-slinging with the DA.
The EFF lashed out at the DA, saying: “South Africans must realise the DA for what it is, an arrogant, white masculinist, sexist and unlawful political party.”
The marriage of convenience between the EFF and the DA suffered serious cracks after the red berets removed a DA mayor they were instrumental in installing.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip was eventually removed in August.
Malema had threatened earlier that the EFF would “cut the throat of whiteness”. This clearly demonstrates how the EFF switched sides several times this year.
There was a time that the EFF and DA marched side by side against the ANC. But their alliance has soured, with the DA opening criminal cases against Malema and his deputy over the VBS Mutual Bank scandal.
But the DA knows that it has got a lot to lose if its relationship with the EFF comes to an end.
It was the EFF that played a vital role in crowning DA mayors in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay following the municipal elections in 2016.
Other than Trollip, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga nearly paid the price after the EFF proposed a motion of no confidence against him in August.
In justifying its decision, the EFF said Msimanga was incompetent and a coward in the face of a racist white caucus.
The EFF was angered by Msimanga’s inability to implement policies such as in-sourcing workers.
The DA-led metros, Tshwane and Johannesburg, have now acceded to the EFF’s demand to in-source workers.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane trod carefully when asked this week about the relationship between his party and the EFF.
“The DA has consistently upheld that the ANC has destroyed our economy. Our view always has been that it is better to remove the ANC out of metros so that we can bring our agenda for change. This is why we work with the EFF. We don’t play personalities,” Maimane told City Press.
He said Gordhan and Moyane were part of the ANC that mismanaged the country’s economy.
“We will need to bring change that brings one South Africa for all.”
The EFF raised eyebrows when it rejected the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Moyane as Sars commissioner. It viewed the decision as Ramaphosa’s general war against black professionals.
But, stunningly, in March the EFF welcomed the suspension of Moyane, saying it would welcome a new head of Sars to rebuild the credibility of the institution.
Ramaphosa axed Moyane last month after accepting a recommendation of the Sars commission of inquiry by the chairperson, retired judge Robert Nugent, that Moyane be sacked.
In a year of changing sides, the EFF’s claim as corruption busters took a knock when a forensic report by advocate Terry Motau showed that millions had flown into the accounts of Brian Shivambu, Floyd Shivambu’s brother, earning them the moniker of “VBS looters”.
As South Africa goes into the general elections next year, the ambitious party and its leaders, particularly Malema, already see themselves as a “government in waiting”.
Polls earlier in the year showed an increase in support for the party, but that petered out towards year-end.