Esteemed journalist Max du Preez put pen to paper last week to once again express his views on the Economic Freedom Fighters – many of which have been disproven over the past four years since the inception of this young dynamic movement.
Du Preez’s first bone of contention is the growth of the EFF since 2013. He seems to dispute the idea that the EFF is on a fast enough growth path, noting that the popularity of the movement is only “perceived” and drummed up by the media and not by the voters. But he goes on to mention that the party will probably only make a 10% showing in the 2019 election from 2014’s 6.3%.
It is not clear how Du Preez does not see this as growth in simple arithmetical terms. But his contention is clearly with pace of growth. It would seem the party is not growing fast enough for him.
He seems to have missed that on top of being the third biggest party in less than a year of inception, the EFF also amassed in excess of 800 councillors in less that three years of its presence in formal politics. The EFF’s astronomic growth is not a matter of dispute in the body politics. It is a scientific fact.
But he betrays his leanings by quickly comparing it with the DA, which he predicts will probably make a 30% showing in 2019 – an anecdote that was not only irrelevant to his article, but also not supported by any facts.
But perhaps his missed-calculations are more informed by his staunch belief that the commander in chief of the EFF, Julius Malema, is a power monger. “He wants power,” Du Preez asserts in his veiled attack on the EFF leader.
There is no clarity as to why Du Preez believes this so inexorably. He has been repeating this line since as far back as one can remember. In the absence of concrete facts, it is difficult to see how he comes to this definitive conclusion. And he again betrays his disdainful views by saying “Malema’s [and other leaders] views are not as raw as in the early days”, which he patronisingly passes as a compliment.
This reminds one of the missionaries of the 1700s who to referred to their African converts as the “more civilised” ones, polished of their rough edges. So it seems the rawness is what bothers the esteemed stalwart about the EFF.
Yet if Du Preez had kept his ear to the ground, he would have heard from beyond the distant horizons that the “rawness” has been hailed by ordinary South Africans, not the media, as “the truth”.
There is no polish or refinery for truth. It is either raw, or it is modified, and if it is modified, it is no longer truth.
Du Preez then draws particular attention to a statement Malema made in which he said white people were supremacists. He seems to defend the principle that there are some white people who must be exempted from the inhuman supremacy against blacks in general by a collective white minority.
He reminded me of some of us black men who sought to be exempted from the patriarchal violence on women we are witnessing today, qualifying that there are some among us who are not violent. I was one of them, and I have seen the error of my ways.
The conversation was a lot deeper than the narrow individual interest.
Du Preez himself is highly vocal in the white community conscientising them on taking “collective” responsibility for the effects of white supremacy on the collective black mass. What then is the difference when the same gospel is preached by Malema?
He then strangely criticises the EFF’s constant engagement on race issues. One would think Du Preez would know that race relations in South Africa are far from resolved and that walking on egg shells has not assisted – it has fermented latent racism.
Rwanda imploded precisely because of this avoidance of pertinent issues. So did Zimbabwe.
The EFF is encouraging an open discussion on race matters that too many are afraid to engage with publicly.
Surprisingly, Mr Du Preez himself is an ardent advocate for dialogue on race relations. So ardent that he has been vilified by racists himself for being too harsh on Afrikaners.
That he dismisses the land question does not deserve much attention. He relegates it to “a popular slogan, but this is more about symbolism and assertiveness than reality”, he says. I’m certain someone else inserted that line in his absence and he didn’t care to proofread it. It cannot be Max du Preez who dismisses such a core struggle agenda in such a crass manner purely because of his personal feelings for a party advocating for a more serious discussion on land.
Where is our hope of brave white people who will dare speak without fear on the land question and explain cogently to fellow whites what this struggle is about.
This is totally reckless from a stalwart journalist. For his benefit, there is now a healthy discussion among professionals from economists to judges who are deliberating on the effects of expropriation of land and nationalisation of mines.
Du Preez’s own conclusions on the subject are not the final word by any stretch of the imagination. And if Du Preez strongly believes the EFF’s submissions must not be tested because they have failed elsewhere, then by this global logic, no one should try anything after it has failed elsewhere.
By this logic, Karl Benz should not have attempted building a car after Frenchman Nicholas Joseph Cugnot failed dismally with his “fardier à vapeur”, not to mention the host of other failed pioneers who lined up in between them. Where would the automobile be today?
And it is rather peculiar and crude to compare President Jacob Zuma’s rhetoric on land with the EFF’s well-considered arguments that it makes in Parliament and engages local and international minds on.
The EFF is not a bunch of naïve rascals who just “want power” as Du Preez puts it. This is why he will never fathom its longevity. He still has to understand its internal and internationalist machinations which are yes young, but highly sophisticated.
Interestingly, from Pixley ka Isaka Seme’s accounts, this is the kind of criticism that was levelled at the South African Native National Congress from Doubting Thomases who perpetually predicted it would never see two years in existence.
In 2013 critics predicted the EFF would not see its second birthday, Du Preez has benevolently extended it to six. Perhaps his benevolence will persist at the sixth birthday and extend it to 10. The EFF is eternally grateful for his graciousness.
But Du Preez’s other criticisms are petty and lack the kind of sophistication we’ve come to expect from a professional of his calibre.
He squirms at the EFF’s going to visit King Goodwill Zwelithini and dismisses it as “sucking up”. For a man who has seen as much politics as he has, this is below par and disappointing. Does he not know that societies are captivated by certain individuals of perceived power or influence? And that in order to access such societies, one of the effective channels is such individuals?
Because the EFF has ambitions to grow beyond his projected 10%, how else will it penetrate KwaZulu-Natal, some of whose sway is firmly in the influence of the king.
Did he dismiss the number of times Nelson Mandela went to visit the very same king as “sucking up”? My guess is he did not. Then one has to ask if he perhaps harbours a certain particular disdain for the EFF and why.
Du Preez makes the serious allegation that the EFF is violent in Parliament. He says: “Many citizens are entertained by the EFF’s violent shenanigans in Parliament.”
If Du Preez cared to exercise restraint in his bias, he would have noted that it is the EFF that is the victim of violence in Parliament. If this humble fact is not satisfactory enough for him, perhaps he would be satisfied by the court judgment in the EFF vs Baleka Mbete case in which the courts found that the decision to violently eject the EFF from Parliament was illegal.
Du Preez would have also followed on social media that Parliament had increasingly and illegally armed itself with special forces to administer violence on the EFF’s members. The organisation has a constitutional right to defend itself.
The statement he makes is insensitive in light of the violence on the many women of the EFF, many of whom had to be hospitalised because of this underhandedness of the state. For a seasoned and stalwart struggle journalists such as himself, this deliberate oversight is perplexing and tasteless.
Perhaps Du Preez can take a leaf out of another veteran journalist’s book. Fred Khumalo wrote, a day before Du Preez put his thoughts together, in an article titled I salute the commander in chief on his march to the presidency.
Khumalo starts by admitting what Du Preez fails to, which is that he should be eating his hat for undermining the longevity of this movement, which many South Africans – not the media – now see as their eyes and ears on matters of truth.
Khumalo makes no bones about his distance from the EFF and notes his continuing criticism, but he is fair enough to at least acknowledge the obvious growth of the young movement. Du Preez fails dismally at this rather basic benchmark.
It is not beyond the vicinity of possibility that Du Preez’s denied but unwavering belief in the EFF is his own Achilles Heel in his rather erroneous analysis of the party.
If this is even remotely possible, then it is this belief in the party that has led him to mistakenly assert that it has the capacity to be government in 2019.
He has lost patience and is bitterly disappointed in realising that this may not be reflected in the numbers he has been witnessing in the last two polls. But Du Preez must exercise patience. Rome was not built in five years.
The EFF is young, it acknowledges the fact. It is growing, but it is young. The commander in chief of the EFF has continuously said the EFF will not take power through the back door; that it will build slowly and patiently through branches and persuasion.
The party did not hasten to desire to govern metros in the 2016 election when it had the bargaining power to do so. It instead opted out of the power games and rather elected to go back to the ground and build.
It is now speaking to the same youth Du Preez claims it is not engaging. It has taken a well-considered decision to build in the provinces not only of Limpopo and North West, but as well in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape where Du Preez correctly notes that it was not strong.
This is clearly a movement that is more patient with its growth and does not “want power” as Du Preez continues to believe.
Evidence through scientific numbers in polls and in public opinion have clearly shown that the ANC on the other hand is on a downward trajectory. Why would a dynamic and growing outfit such as the EFF want to go back to such decay.
The EFF is democratically contesting power through the ballot and has adequately demonstrated that it will not take power “by any means possible”. It is precisely in that spirit of its politics that the ANC is not even a remote possibility. The party will be a majority party without a shadow of doubt, but it will do so with patience and persistence.
P.S. Dear Du Preez. It is time to change your stance on the EFF. You do not have to like it, but at least speak the truth about it. You are a man who has dedicated his entire life to chasing the truth. We expect nothing less from you. You once asked in an article you wrote, why the “democrat” Fana Mokoena joined the EFF. It is because he got tired of dancing around the truth that was there for all to see.
Change is not happening for Africans. We have been polite about it, but it is simply not coming. It is more than frustrating, it is painful.
That pain is growing every day we see our parents, family and friends perpetually descend into the abyss of poverty.
It is because that pain is growing that the EFF will keep growing because it is the only party that speaks the “raw” language of that pain. You may not like its leadership, you may not even like its politics or its tone, but at the very least, recognise the truth of the pain it represents. If you at least bring yourself to that fact, you will surely know it is a formidable and unstoppable force whose time has surely come. Salute