T H E A N C / E F F D I V I D E O P E N I N G U P
All the media attention was focused on the antics of the EFF who was indeed playing the media game very well. Publicity stunts all around, from red helmets to outrageous pronouncements for which they are called to order by stern looking (ANC) chairpersons. Suddenly the EFF are the radicals and the ANC the somber keepers of the order.
A little reported theme was that Mr. Malia and other EFF MPs repeatedly offered their 6% votes in parliament to be added to the ANC’s 62% so that a two thirds majority can change the property clause in the Constitution (sec 25) – an offer emphatically spurned by the ANC; followed later by an unambiguous statement that changing sec 25 is not ANC policy. (See discussion of land issue below).
The fear, and for others the dream, that the ANC will link up with the EFF to form a radical political coalition is fading before our eyes. In fact, Mr. Malia has burnt all bridges between him and the ANC. It is shaping up the way we predicted it would – the EFF is getting under the skin of the ANC and the tension between them is getting worse, not better.
Some people are worried about the impact of the EFF on Parliament. It is worth noting that not one minute of the Parliamentary programme or process was delayed because of EFF antics. Noise and dust yes, but the caravan moves on.
A D I F F E R E N T D I V I D E S H A P I N G U P I N P O L I T I C S
During Parliamentary debates the ANC was repeatedly attacked from the left and the right. The DA, for example, accused it of being anti-business, whilst the EFF accused it of being too pro-business. This illustrates neatly the divide emerging in our politics between left, right and middle. Just consider again the votes cast in the recent election:
- 31% of voters voted to the right of the ANC. In that grouping the DA took the bulk of the votes, i.e. 22% of the 31%. Nine other parties share the remaining 9%.
- 6.5% of the voters voted to the left of the ANC. The EFF took the bulk of the votes with the PAC gaining only one seat. For the first time the space to the left of the ANC was filled with a credible challenger. (Some people argue that there is nothing “left” about the EFF and that it is really a racist and fascist party of the right. In theory, maybe; in practice the EFF’s policy positions of grabbing land and nationalising mines and banks have a distinctly left wing ring to it, while “right” in SA has a very different meaning to it. I am happy to categorise them as left.)
- 62% of the voters voted for the ANC which sits between the right and the left.
The grouping on the right of the ANC – certainly the DA – would support free market policies with limited taxation and small government. Most of the other nine parties, if not economically, are at least socially to the right of the ANC. They would, for example, oppose gay marriages and/or abortion and support the death penalty – all positions the ANC does not hold.
The grouping on the left wants to grab land and nationalise the banks and mines. Other, better organised and more principled organisations of the left, like NUMSA, also articulate additional positions like political control of the Reserve Bank, a wealth tax and in general the subservience of markets to government control.
Between these two the ANC finds itself in the middle.
Unlike the left it does not want land grabs (see the discussion below on land); its policy is not to nationalise banks or mines; it underwrites the independence of the Reserve Bank; it accepts the importance of markets but also believes it has a duty to regulate and so on.
Unlike the right it does not stand for a small state, low taxation or unregulated free markets. It is, however, in favour of using the state as a developmental instrument; using the state to address previous wrongs and exclusion; and using the state to drive industrialisation.
It seems to me the most appropriate (political) description for the parties would be that the ANC is a centre -left party, the DA a centre-right party and the EFF a hard left party. The two main parties are slogging it out around the middle – a trend that is also found in respect of land.
L A N D I L L U S T R A T E S T H E M I D D L E P O S I T I O N
Land Affairs minister Nkwinti published proposals, before the elections already, that farmers should hand over 50% of their farms to long serving farm employees. These proposals are clearly far left on the political spectrum (although not as far as the EFF would want). Now, post the election, there were some interesting reactions to them.
- The ANC’s official spokesman said this was not the policy agreed at Mangaung;
- the president of the emerging farmers union was highly critical of the proposals;
- several legal experts pointed out that it will probably not pass sec 25 of the Constitution; and
- commercial farmers warned of dire consequences for food security – a touchy subject for government.
The first two centres of opposition come from the heart of the minister’s constituency and are politically meaningful. The minister again confirmed in Parliament that sec 25 is not about to be changed on the issue of compensation – which means his 50%-without-compensation proposal will have great difficulty flying.
The minister went too far to the left and has been rebuffed. I do not expect the proposals to be implemented. Rather, I expect a position closer to the middle ground to be found.
That middle ground may very well be around the one good idea in the minister had in his proposals and that was the concept of partnerships.
S U C C E S S S T O R I E S
By my guestimate there must be at least 50 to 100 cases of successful land reform initiatives around the country. These are cases which combine both equity (land ownership for Black citizens) and efficiency (sustainable farming maintained on that land). Zimbabwe teaches us what happens if one concentrates only on equity, and ignores efficiency. The rhetoric of the EFF teaches us what thinking can take hold if we do not deal with equity. The key is in marrying both.
The best chance of marrying equity and efficiency is through partnerships between old and new farmers; and partnerships between agri-business and new farmers.
The opportunity exists now to codify the 50 to 100 successful cases in a set of proposals that can form the basis for land reform. I do not think the time has been as ripe as this since 1994.
S O W H A T ?
- The fear/dream that the EFF will link up with the ANC to form a two-thirds majority to do things drastic is clearly not happening; and in fact is receding fast.
- Rather, what we detect is the slow distillation of a new politics in the country – part of the transition from liberation politics to political party politics. The EFF is taking the role of crude liberation politics; whilst the ANC is in a more nuanced left of centre space.
- This divide will force us all to become more mature about our politics. The DA is not simply “counter -
- revolutionary” and the ANC not simply “socialist”. Both are converging to the middle.
- This allows for non-party political groupings like farmers to influence policy much more – but they will also have to do it in the more nuanced way of our new politics.
JP LANDMAN Political Analyst