With Nelson Mandela unlikely to survive much longer, South Africans will soon have to confront a future devoid of the multi-cultural and multi-racial consensus embodied by their former leader. Whilst South Africa is far from racially harmonious, Mandela’s efforts, both during and after his presidency, have prevented the sort of widespread bloodshed and racist retaliation seen in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Without Mandela, an increasingly weak, corrupt and indecisive ANC government, and a promotion of militancy by firebrands such as Julius Malema, a new Zimbabwe may be on the horizon.
Malema is one of the chief concerns. Formerly leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League, Malema was expelled for his aggressive challenge towards the ANC hierarchy and refusal to play second-fiddle to established politicians. His response has been to establish a new political party: Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Described variously as Marxist-Leninist, Communist, Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Imperialist, the EFF is little more than a quasi-militant body, using political registration for a veneer of legitimacy. Prominent members include pan-Africanists and ANC dissidents. This includes Dali Mpofu, whose affair with Winnie Mandela led to the irrevocable staining of the latter’s reputation, despite Malema’s idiotic claim that the affair was a fabrication of Afrikaner propaganda.
The ANC has accused the Zimbabwean ruling party, Zanu-PF, of supporting Malema’s EFF and it would be little surprise if this is true. Like Zanu-PF, the EFF is an inherently racist party, no better than the white minority regimes of the past that it is so keen to decry. Like Zanu-PF, the EFF, if given the chance, would steal white land and distribute it to its black supporters. Threats of violence against white South Africans are a feature of fledgling EFF rallies.
Robert Mugabe has never apologised for the excesses of his ‘land reform’ in Zimbabwe and has refused to compensate victims despite rulings from independent tribunals in South Africa. Should Malema ever come to power, he is likely to be equally uncompromising.
It should be noted that Malema and the EFF are unlikely to storm the next general election and form a South African government. However, if the EFF is unable to enact its planned policies ‘legitimately’ through government, it may choose to do so illegally through unsanctioned land grabs and mine seizures.
Furthermore, as the Zuma government and the ANC becomes increasingly synonymous with corrupt practices and an inability to improve the lives of the poorest black Africans, the EFF will gain greater support. The most recent accusation against the hapless president is that he grossly overspent on upgrades to his rural homestead in the name of ‘national security’.
The longer such abuses of power continue, the less people will associate the ANC with its anti-Apartheid legacy. Whilst many still vote for the ANC out of habit and gratitude, the increasing publicisation of its declining effectiveness in government will lead those regular supporters to question their complicity.
All this helps Malema, a racist in the true sense of the word, a man keen to impose the Zimbabwean model on South Africa and destroy any remaining notions of Mandela’s consensus.