Columns 10.8.2016 09:00 am

Malema holds the trump card

Martin Williams

Martin Williams

The EFF’s Julius Malema can decide who will govern Johannesburg, Tshwane and elsewhere. That’s his trump card.

Although the EFF are “kingmakers” after the local elections, statistically, their results don’t match the hype. After bold predictions, the party’s share of the vote crept up from 6.35% in the 2014 general elections to 8.2%.

The number of EFF voters went from 1 169 259 to 1 219 283, an increase of a mere 50 024. That’s short of Julius Malema’s July 24 prediction in City Press: “If we triple those [2014] numbers and increase significantly, then come 2019, we are the biggest players in the political space … That is the only scientific thing that will build people’s confidence in the EFF.”

Well, the scientific thing didn’t happen. So how’s the confidence? Malema told a Tshwane rally: “There are only two bulls in the SA political space: one called the ANC, old and tired; and a new, energetic and productive one called the EFF. You should vote for the younger one.”

Big talk. A load of bull. He left out the blue one. The EFF won no councils. Its 761 council seats, scattered around the country, are nearly all proportional representation list seats. EFF candidates were elected in only 17 wards out of 4 392. Yet, the EFF is in a powerful position.

The party helped push the ANC below 50% in several metros and reduced the governing party’s overall percentage. Significantly, Malema can decide who will govern Johannesburg, Tshwane and elsewhere. That’s his trump card.

What motivates Malema? Is he driven by passion for social justice? Or is he obsessed with revenge against Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa? Or is there, instead, a shifting combination of impulses?

Remember, in 2012 Ramaphosa chaired the appeals body, which upheld a guilty verdict against Malema by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee. Since then, Malema and the EFF have taunted “McBuffalo” at every opportunity, especially over the Marikana massacre.

Malema does not like Zuma. So, here’s a possible scenario: Malema tells the ANC they can have control of all the Gauteng metros, but Zuma and Ramaphosa must go. This politics is personal. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that the ANC weighs up the options and decides it is indeed time for Zuma to go. Perhaps Ramaphosa, too, is ditched.

From there it will not take too much imagination for Malema to be absorbed back into the ANC, to the delight of Winnie MadikizelaMandela, among others. After a while, prodigal son Malema could become ANC leader. And if that party still has the numbers, South Africa will be ruled by ANC President Julius Malema.

Do you think that’s impossible? Too ghastly to contemplate? It’s a sobering prospect. And that is why we must hope and pray that those involved in metro negotiations use all their skills to ensure a different outcome. One that recognises the DA’s growth. People who live in South Africa’s big cities have spoken.

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