Einstein, said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. I thought of this common adage when the EFF attempted not for the first, second or third time, to stop the President from speaking, this time at the most recent SONA.
The EFF’s latest stance to rather wholeheartedly boycott the president if and when he attends parliament is perhaps the more mature thing to do given its many failed attempts to deny South Africans their right to hear the president in annual reporting.
They informed SA they are now changing tact. Their new plan is a complete boycott of parliamentary sittings where the president is to speak. On this score I felt like saying “bravo, that is a mature way of registering your displeasure if you do not suffer of constitutional delinquency as a democrat”.
As part of its decision not to participate they intend approaching the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the National Assembly failed to keep the president accountable. In a nutshell the EFF wants the Constitutional Court in a legal sense to direct the National Assembly on how to keep the executive accountable.
It is difficult to see how this new tactic of the EFF will deliver its overarching goal (the removal of Jacob Zuma), particularly when one revisits the Constitutional Court ruling on the Nkandla case. The Constitutional Court recognises the National Assembly’s right to decide as to how it would keep the executive accountable. If the Constitutional Court accedes to the new tactic of the EFF it would mean the judiciary, as one of three arms of the state, encroaches on the legislative and executive arms.
The idea for the EFF to resort to the Constitutional Court may be premised on the following reasons. It may be bad legal counsel built on the frame of previous successful cases in other courts on other issues. It can also mean it is a desperate last resort to get Zuma removed. Therefore the chances of the EFF succeeding in this court case may be very slim.
THE EFF EXISTS TO REMOVE ZUMA
It is important to understand why the removal of the president is so crucial for the EFF. I am on record for having said the EFF exists in two personalities, namely Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema. The day one of the two, for whatever reason, leaves the political scene the EFF would be irrelevant and obsolete. The genesis of the EFF is the removal of Zuma in revenge for a Malema’s expulsion from the ANC. This is the fundamental reason for the existence of the EFF; we know this because it has hitherto dismally failed to table a coherent and distinguished alternative for leading SA, particularly in claim of economic freedom. It thus remains trapped in that ontology and cannot shed its proverbial skin.
The aim therefore was always to remove Zuma and this is to be attained by any means. They would frame themselves in economic freedom claims, the recognised soft belly of the ANC. They would target the masses of unemployed young people because according to the expanded definition, the unemployment rate for the youth (younger than 25) is at an incredible 63.1%.
Having understood the original reason for the EFF leads us to attempt to make sense of its most recent tactics.
WHAT ARE THESE NEW TACTICS CONFIRMING?
With these new tactics the EFF finally concedes it has failed to remove Jacob Zuma by political means.
It inadvertently admits every personal attack and insult, abuse hurled with claimed leaked information, has failed.
It is conceding that every tactic employed so far with the help of some ANC leaders and members has failed to deliver their desired outcome. It is conceding its tactics of attempting to divide the ANC through leaked stories and personal claims that seeks to pit leaders against one another has failed. It is simply not making news headlines anymore as even a lusty media is losing interest in their waning strategy.
The EFF, with this last resort of a Constitutional Court attempt, appears to admit all its efforts in parliament anchored in making the house ungovernable hitherto failed to deny the president to speak.
It is conceding it cannot stop the delivery of any SONA. Regardless of the claims of illegitimacy and its absolute disdain, it cannot stop the SA president from speaking at a gathering he called.
It is admitting at best its dramatics would delay the SONA address by an hour, which usually results in them being expelled from the house, and the business of the day continues uninterrupted, meaning the president in the SONA or other address, is heard.
Is it possible they realised their behaviour in claim of campaigning in parliament is not as beneficial to them as it first appeared? The EFF in parliament claims a right to be more important than all others, it shows this in its actions to override officers, and by infringing on the rights of fellow parliamentarians who equally sit in the National Assembly as elected by South Africans to represent their constituencies.
They possibly realised their behaviour in parliament is not endearing them to the South African masses that increasingly are growing tired of these tactics of disenfranchising them from their constitutional right to hear a report on the State on issues that concern South Africa.
Much is made of the August 2016 municipal elections in claim of how the ANC lost when no municipality was won by the EFF. It finds itself questioned in its ideological stance for its expedient political deals with the DA, an old hand in political affairs and vat-en-sit marriages if the ID and Agang is taken as a yardstick. A relationship which for all intents and purposes renders them a junior partner. We see this in the struggle they have to convince the DA to support them to control Metsimaholo municipality in Sasolburg.
When you raise this there are those who protest and say the EFF is only 3 years old. The counter argument can be made that the EFF attained its 6% at a time when the ANC was at its weakest.
So we may conclude the EFF has become unstuck on a Zuma removal from high office. We may conclude the EFF had its best run in the August 2016 Municipal Elections. The logic for such reasoning is the fact that the EFF attained a 6% percentage at the accepted weakest time of the ANC. What will they attain when the ANC is slightly stronger with a different leader who was not the reason for the EFF’s existence? Remember COPE too had in its first run attained 7% and today is simply not coping and reduced to an irrelevant voice often competing with the EFF and UDM to eke out relevance from the bedrock of a Zuma removal.
It appears in between sore bodies and numerous defeats the realisation dawned that its best decision to protest is to not attend.
At another level its non-attendance in key sittings may also send the wrong message to its constituency, meaning they are not represented.
We will have to wait and see how this pans out, but for now the EFF with its latest tactics, communicates a definitive and undeniable message of defeat. Not being able to remove an ANC president from office spells the EFF has failed at the fundamental reason for its existence.
Any organisation that fails to attain the primary reason for its existence is perhaps dying whilst claiming its alive.
This column first appeared on ramalainetalkpoliticalanalysis.com.