South Africa

EFF positioning itself as king-maker to determine who next runs the country

Julius Malema

The leftist Economic Freedom Fighters, South Africa’s third-largest party, expects no outright winner to emerge from next month’s elections and is positioning itself as a king-maker to determine who will run the country next.

The EFF, which wants land to be expropriated without compensation and for all mines to be nationalized, will partner with any rival that backs its policies, its leader Julius Malema said.

While he sees uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MKP, a newly formed party backed by former President Jacob Zuma, as a natural fit for a coalition partner given their shared view on land ownership, the two won’t be able to govern on their own and would likely need to tie up with the ruling African National Congress to form a government.

“I don’t think the ANC will get anything beyond 40%, and I think they have somehow, you know, accepted that fate,” meaning a coalition will rule after the May 29 vote, Malema said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office on Wednesday.

“From a policy perspective, it shouldn’t be difficult for the EFF and the ANC and MK” and like-minded parties to find common ground,” he said.

The prospect of a coalition between the ANC and the EFF has unnerved investors. The rand tumbled on Monday after a poll conducted by the Social Research Foundation — the methodology questioned by some analysts — showed support for the ANC falling below 40%, indicating that it would have to enlist the support of one of its large rivals to retain power.

Several other polls have also indicated the ANC will lose its parliamentary majority, albeit by a smaller margin.

While the ANC agrees with the EFF that the government should have the right to take land without paying for it, they disagree on modalities. The EFF refused to back the ruling party’s bid to change the constitution in 2021 to smooth the process of expropriation, saying it didn’t go far enough.

MK believes “in the expropriation of land without compensation. Our differences with MK are not on strategic issues,” Malema said. “It is an immediate ally you would want to look into.”

Support for the ANC, which has held power since apartheid ended three decades ago, has waned due to its shortcomings in tackling rampant poverty and unemployment, rolling blackouts, and endemic crime and corruption.

The emergency of the MKP had added to its woes, with Zuma remaining wildly popular in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, the county’s second-most popular region.

Malema clarified that even though the EFF wants the state to be the custodian of all land, investors would still retain security of tenure.

The outcry over the EFF’s proposals is “fear-mongering,” he said.


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