“The EFF should not be underestimated”

Stellenbosch – Julius Malema, a name that sends shivers down the spines of white right-wingers and perhaps gives President Jacob Zuma a few sleepless nights, but surely not a name to be disregarded.

Richard Poplak, a writer and journalist for the Daily Maverick, is releasing his new book Until Julius Comes in Cape Town this week. Until Julius Comes is centred on the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

In a visit to the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University, Poplak says the first time he became aware of the “seismic shift” taking place in South African politics  and the rise of the EFF was when president Jacob Zuma was booed at the memorial service of Nelson Mandela in December 2013.

The EFF placed third in this year’s general election securing 6.35% of the vote. Poplak argues that one of the main reasons why the EFF has outperformed AGANG in this year’s general election is because the “EFF understands that votes are won on the ground and not through grand gestures”.

The EFF did not do a registration drive like the DA and the ANC, they did walk inns. “The election results of the EFF would have been more significant if they went through the proper campaigning structures,” says Poplak.

The idea of representation in South Africa is being transformed, “all of the sudden people realise they have a voice and that voice is Julius Malema”.

Poplak referred to Malema as “one of the greatest political minds in South African history. He eats, sleeps and breathes South African politics”.

On Thursday the 21st of August the EFF was thrown out of parliament after demanding questions from Zuma about when he will pay back some of the money spent on his Nkandla home. “We cannot underestimate how powerful that war performance was in parliament,” says Poplak.

The DA might be the party with the most seats in parliament next to the ANC but, the “EFF is the official opposition in parliament” as they bring the big issues to the big house.

Nicola De Jager, a lecturer at the department of Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch, asked if the “ANC and mainstream media are not playing directly into the hand of the EFF”.

According to Poplak, Malema understand the Zeitgeist of South Africa very good and “understands how to plug himself into the media streams”. Poplak is of opinion that much of the interaction between the EFF and the media is a “light show of intentional misinformation.”

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