The EFF will double its support – Ferial Haffajee and Justice Malala at the State of the Nation Times Talks event
Ray Hartley moderated a Times Talks event with Ferial Haffajee and Justice Malala at Kingsmead College in Joburg last night, on the theme “The State of the Nation”.
Hartley put forward that Julius Malema has emerged the big winner after the Nkandla developments of the past week, with President Jacob Zuma agreeing to pay back at least part of the money.
“It was the EFF that brought the case, the DA joined them,” Hartley said, “the EFF initiated the pay back the money stunt, and they have now been vindicated, with the reversal Zuma made.
“Now they are bringing the next big issue – the Guptas and the patronage of the ANC elite – onto the agenda in a very powerful way, and they seem to have the momentum, a political savvy, the social media take.
“Can they turn that into votes in the local government election? Are their supporters registered? Are they going to gain something?”
Both Haffajee and Malala said they believe the EFF is in a very powerful position, which they should be able to strengthen in the upcoming local government elections.
Is Julius Malema good for us, or is he dangerous?
An audience member asked, “Is Julius Malema good for us, or is he dangerous?”
Haffajee responded: “As an MP, Julius Malema has been fantastic news for us. As a president, I would be more worried, because I do think he has demagogic tendencies.
“I think that the other day, with his completely untamed rhetoric trying to push out the New Age and ANN7 journalists, was a pretty bone-chilling moment, and I’ve seen him deliver quite a few of those.
“On the other hand, as an editor who’s covered him quite closely for eight years now, there’s definitely been an evolution of spirit, of showing himself to have an ability to learn, to be a fine politician, and I think he set the agenda last year.”
Haffajee said she believes Malema deserves a lot of credit for popularising the anti-corruption fight, adding: “Let’s see if that path of maturity, the belief in clean governance continues.
“Once the EFF win its first two councils, or maybe its first province, we’ll have something to judge its governance by.”
Despite some troubling moments, Haffajee said she was impressed with what she saw of EFF leadership at the press conference.
“The work that the EFF young people have been doing was obvious to see. Julius Malema, Floyd Shivambu, etc, have been coached at a high level. They’ve obviously been reading a lot and they are very different from the corruptible young people we used to cover when they were doing all their shenanigans in Limpopo.
“I think if the local government election was held tomorrow, they would easily double their support, because they’ve become the effective official opposition.”
Haffajee says she was surprised when, in an interview the same day, Malema compared himself to Helen Suzman, with respect to the power that one person has and the power that a group of people – such as the EFF – consequently have.
“He clearly had a vision in sight of how they are going to get to 2019, and then to the election thereafter.”
But the conversation is also not just about what the EFF are doing right but about what the DA is doing wrong …”
Malala concurred, and stressed that he believes the EFF and Malema’s main strength is their relationship with the youth, a weak area for more “traditional” parties like the ANC and DA.
“With youth unemployment between 52 and 57 percent, if young people can be pushed to register to vote, that vote would belong to the EFF,” Malala said.
“In Gauteng in particular, the EFF is getting into communities where ANC councillors are weak, and I think it’s going to surprise a lot.
“I think the EFF is going to do much better in these local government elections than many people contend. I think they could go from a six percent to a 12 percent.
“But the conversation is also not just about what the EFF are doing right but about what the DA is doing wrong …”
Malala says he believes the DA is being disrupted, and that the local government elections will be key for the party.
“If their percentage doesn’t go from 22 to 30 percent, I think there’s going to be a leadership challenge in the DA.”
Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer) tweeted live from the event:
Times Talks is a series of in-depth conversations around big ideas. Keep an eye on the Sunday Times and Books LIVE for future events.
- What If There Were No Whites In South Africa? by Ferial Haffajee
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- We Have Now Begun Our Descent: How To Stop South Africa Losing Its Way by Justice Malala
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Photos: Raymond Preston