The Economic Freedom Fighters are flourishing on university campuses across South Africa, according to the leader Julius Malema. The organisation’s student structures are making their mark on campuses, and The Daily Vox examines what this might mean for the party in the 2019 national elections.
For some students, campus election victories meant that the EFF can be bullish about its chances in 2019.
“It will certainly win the elections, they are very strategic,” says Lukhanyo Gatya, a student at the Durban University of Technology.
Gatya is excited that the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) took victory in the institution, saying: “As much as most elderly people will be voting for the only party they have ever known for decades, it is highly likely that the EFF will win in 2019 because they are targeting the youth which is the most voters and educated.”
The EFF recently won a hotly-contested victory at DUT, beating out the ANC-alligned Sasco and ANC Youth League.
This was not the EFFSC’s first victory – in 2014, the EFFSC took victory in the SRC elections at the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop Campus, which had always been an ANC stronghold. The EFFSC defeated the the ANC aligned Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA).
In the recent years EFFSC has emerged victorious within the likes of University of Venda, University of Free State, and University of Limpopo. This has created a common view that the national party has a high probability of winning in the ballot papers come 2019.
In 2017, the organisation won at the University of Witwatersrand for the first time.
“EFF is targeting the youth and those are the future leaders of this country who have a different mindset from the ANC,” says another DUT student Sphokuhle Ganamfana.
Many of the campuses that went EFF were in the hands of the PYA – what was the reason for its decline of hegemony?
“They are never available to assist students with their needs and if you happen to bump into their members,they never give you a proper direction of how to seek help or who to talk to. Students end up seeking help from the EFFSC because they have time and are determined to fight for students’ needs,” Gatya said.
In an interview published by The Daily Vox, Khethobole Sekgota, an EFFSC leader at University of Rhodes explained his organisation’s growing appeal: “The EFF has demonstrated an intimate relationship with the society. Within its five years of existence it has changed the political landscape and directed political attention to the people who have been ignored. It has identified all factors we have to change in order to redress racial inequality and class prejudice and as a consequence evade potential instabilities in the future.”
During the 2015 and 2016 Fees Must Fall campaigns, the EFFSC was at the forefront in various institutions such as DUT, with the likes of Bonginkosi Khanyile leading the protests and as a result getting arrested and charged with numerous charges. This strengthened the structure’s numbers with many students deviating from Sasco and PYA to join the EFFSC.
In 2014, the EFF secured a 6.35% vote in its first contested national elections. In the 2016 local government elections, the party won 8.19% on average, however it played a crucial role as a kingmaker in the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay metros, helping the Democratic Alliance set up new governments.
Meanwhile the EFF’s influence on social media and institutions of higher learning has intensified, the party’s unfazed commander-in-chief Malema is also confident that they will be triumphant in the polls in 2019.
“I can guarantee you that there is no way it won’t double its numbers. We expect to win elections; we don’t expect to just double numbers. But even if we lose elections, there’s no way we will get less than double what we got in 2014,” Malema said in an interview with the Mail & Guardian, in March 2018.
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