The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) decision to withdraw its cooperation from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the ANC in city councils countrywide came as no shock – in fact it’s typical of the Red Berets to act impulsively.
Take what they did in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro when they broke ties with the DA and fraternised with the ANC. For more than a year after the DA won the metro in the 2016 local polls, Julius Malema’s party worked very closely with the DA. They were on first-name terms with the DA mayor, Athol Trollip, and against both the ANC and United Democratic Movement (UDM).
Then UDM deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani’s attempts to remove Trollip were thwarted by the EFF, which voted with the DA.
The EFF suddenly changed their stance on working with the DA after its leader Mmusi Maimane opposed the proposed land expropriation policy.
They began a campaign to oust Trollip, although EFF leader Julius Malema did not give the land issue as the main reason for wanting him out.
He claimed they wanted him out because he was a “white man” and added the land issue as another reason for breaking ranks with the DA.
Ousting Trollip for being white angered Gayton McKenzie, leader of the Patriotic Alliance (PA), prompting him to ask PA members not to support the EFF’s plan. Trollip was finally removed two years later.
Interestingly, during one of Malema’s press conferences he told journalists the EFF would never work to remove former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga because he is black.
He also said Joburg City mayor Herman Mashaba should stay because he was a guy who listened and their coalition was working well – although Malema always denies being in a coalition with anybody.
Like a chameleon, the party changes its colour in certain situations – just like the reptile would do as a camouflage against a threat or to confuse a prey before attacking with its sticky tongue.
Last week, the Red Berets decided to break ties with the DA and even the ANC.
According to Malema, the EFF would abstain on any matter that required voting.
A party most threatened by the EFF’s decision is the DA – especially in Joburg and Tshwane where it depended on the EFF for its survival.
The EFF’s decision could have unintended – or perhaps intended – consequences to enable the ANC to walk back into power at the metros.
This may be a strategy to prepare the Red Berets towards strengthening ties with the ANC, which would realise the long-rumoured view that Malema was an ANC proxy used to push for radical policies that the ruling party feared to raise publicly on its own.
The ANC supported an EFF motion on the land expropriation without compensation in parliament not so long ago.
It’s the EFF’s right to align or not, but their decision was sudden, though not surprising, considering their historic chameleon tendency.
But their toing and froing could backfire as many of its members may not like to be pulled back to the ANC that they abandoned after it disappointed them.
OPINION: Eric Naki