On Saturday 29 July 2023 Julias Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) celebrated their 10th anniversary of the party. At his keynote address Malema made the same empty promises of the past where he would be providing jobs, houses, clinics, and other social amenities, should he be elected.
Not surprisingly he did not elaborate on how he is going to achieve these objectives! That does not matter. At an election rally it is NOT the “how” that matters but the “what” you promise to deliver that matters.
At the celebration Malema was happy to lead his supporters to chant “Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer”. This is clearly a song that promotes disunity, genocide and racism within the country. Malema’s defence was that such filth is simply a chant that refers to a system of oppression and not to the individuals themselves, it is obviously ludicrous.
I don’t believe that Malema wants to necessarily kill white people, or the Afrikaners for that matter. Adriano Mazzotti, a white, self-confessed tobacco smuggler, paid the IEC the R650 000 on behalf of the EFF for it to be registered as a political party. I have heard more than one opposition politician say that behind closed doors Malema is quite reasonable and moderate. He, surprisingly enough, is quite co-operative with other political parties to find amicable solutions. So why would he then promote such obvious racist behaviour? To find the answer one needs to look at the EFF themselves and the dilemma in which Malema finds himself. In my opinion there are three issues facing the EFF in the prelude to the general election in 2024.
Firstly, the EFF finds fertile political ground amongst the destitute and very poor within our community. People who have lost hope of trying to break free from the bonds of poverty are often lured by the EFF rhetoric of free houses, jobs, and economic wealth. People that will believe empty promises due to their situation and not bother to ask the “how” but are simply happy to believe in the “what” that they are promised.
There can be no doubt that Malema, just like Zuma, has absolutely no intention of sharing any wealth that he may acquire through political means, and convincing the destitute with hollow promises is simply a means to an end. One should not ask the question; are there enough destitute people to provide the EFF with a political win?
But rather; are there enough destitute people, people earning minimum wage who are prepared to give up their free, paid holiday (Elections days are most often made into a public holiday) to stand in a queue to vote, to afford the EFF a win? The 2021 local government elections witnessed the lowest voter turnout ever since democracy in South Africa. Voter apathy is more prominent among black African youth, and
Voter apathy amongst the EFF supporters may be more profound given economic circumstances posed by transport and other costs, thus suggesting limited political gains at the polling stations. Secondly, Malema has shown himself to be a very autocratic leader. These types of leaders always appoint those close to them based on loyalty and not competence. Take Zuma as an example, he preferred to appoint incompetent people to elevated positions within government and the ANC, knowing that any show of disloyalty, will result in their dismissal.
Due to their incompetence, they knew that it would not be possible to obtain comparable employment in the private sector. Corrupt individuals would be a guarantee of loyalty as the person would not only be dismissed but possibly prosecuted. This makes one wonder what information Zuma has on Arthur Fraser after Fraser released Zuma from prison three months into a fifteen-month sentence?
Who supports Malema in running the EFF? Deputy President of the EFF is Floyd Shivambu. Although he has received a master’s degree in political studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, he has managed to assault and swear at journalists, openly comment about regime change in Botswana, be involved in a paternity scandal, and has allegedly been the recipient of irregular funds emanating from the now defunct VBS Bank debacle. So not only violent, but a racist, a liar and totally corrupt.
Marshall Dlamini has no formal post-high school education but is listed as a “businessman.”He has been linked to a controversial fuel tender with the City of Tshwane, where millions of Rands flowed to the EFF. Marshall has also shown his physical prowess by being involved in an assault case with a parliament official. This corrupt hoodlum is the party’s Secretary General.
For the sake of brevity, I will not continue to analyse other party leaders. Autocratic leaders are mostly paranoid, fearing that some underlings who are lured by access to the government/party treasure chest may intend to oust the autocrat. Malema fits the mould perfectly. At the party gala dinner, he lamented about his relationship with Floyd Shivambu and how well they complimented each other but, in true autocratic style, he sent a warning shot across the bow of SAS Shivambu telling him, and all the EFF party faithful, that problems begin when people organise against Malema. “…I hear it in the corners. I am very
ruthless against such people who organise things against me, so never try that with me”.
He almost sounds like the black African version of Vladimir Putin. Then finally, and probably the most important issue facing the EFF, is that the Party had received many millions of Rands either through corrupt tenders that they influenced through their political positions and from corrupt businesspeople. Mazzotti should perhaps keep a lower profile as his Carnilinx may suffer the same fate as Simon Rudland’s Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation (GLTC). On 26 August 2022 SARS seized control of all bank accounts and assets of GLTC and its two Directors when it believed that the company under-declared taxes of more than R1Bn. It has long been suspected that the former SARS commissioner, Tom Moyane, and Malema had close ties. With the appointment of Edward Kieswetter this comfortable arrangement may well lead to a reduction of party funding.
Running a political campaign is not cheap. We all saw the pictures of many thousands of supporters at the FNB stadium. All these people in bright new red T-shirts waving banners and cheering loudly. Presumably after the festivities the supporters were treated to some refreshments before their long trek home. I suspect, due to the newness of the attire, that the supporters were all given their red T-shirts, berets and nice new banners at the gate. It is unthinkable to believe that these supporters, the destitute and poorest, had purchased these items previously and stored them safely just for such an occasion. The free T-shirt alone could be enough to entice many supporters to listen to Malema carry on for a couple of hours.
Should this clothing have been handed out, I have no doubt that the EFF carnival must have depleted the party “war” chest. A successful politician is one who keeps him or herself in the mind and the eye of the electorate. What better way to achieve this than to make some kind of radically controversial statement, song, or chant. Especially a politician against whom the DA has filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Freedom Front Plus has opened a case of intimidation. That means that, each time Malema goes to court, he will soak up as much “free” media attention as he can. Thus, getting maximum bang for his carnival buck. The risk is that should, for whatever reason, this backfire and the Freedom Front Plus case leads to criminal prosecution, the party may find itself without an autocrat as its leader. No autocrat means no party.
What can we as entrepreneurs learn from politicians? It is important to keep our goods or services top of mind to our potential clients. It is not always affordable, so you should make sure that you get as much exposure as possible for the price you pay. Most entrepreneurs cannot afford to pay for expensive television or radio advertising, but there are more ways to attract attention than to just conform to the mass media approach. Social media, advertising on WhatsApp, and local community groups, are great ways to get exposure at very reasonable cost. I see many adverts on various social media platforms, and I flick through them and take very little notice.
Take a leaf out of Malema’s play book and think of a way to maximize on your buck. Do something so that your potential market will sit up and take notice and remember you. I am not suggesting that you go around and chant “kill anyone”. There are far more tasteful and clever ways to keep your products and services top of mind, without the risk of going to jail.
Peter Carlisle CA (SA)