President Jacob Zuma delivered his annual State of the nation earlier this month and the parliamentary debates that followed were a feat on their own.
The new kids on the block, the EFF, turned the usually dull and predictable sessions into a feast for the minds of the public.Was it personal? Was it all in public interest? It has been argued that Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, was disrespectful and out of line .Was he really not just saying what everyone else was thinking and just too afraid to say?
The Economic Freedom Fighters, dubbed parliament’s bad boys have been stepping on toes and ruffling feathers in Parliament. According to reports in the media, squabbles over seat allocation, noise complaints and allegations of intimidation have characterized the party’s first few weeks in Parliament.
According to the CityPress newspaper, EFF butted heads with the Afrikaans party, Freedom Front Plus when the FF+ reportedly laid a noise complaint against the EFF for their behavior in the Marks Building, which houses the offices of the opposition parties on the parliamentary precinct. The FF+ Chief Whip, Corne Mulder reported that members of the EFF in turn swore at and intimidated members of his party.
While all this media hype is brewing in their backyard, members of the EFF made it very clear that they don’t really care.“We are here to debate substantial issues on policy and not seating arrangements or noise complaints.” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. And that is exactly what they are doing.
There’s a pattern looming from parliament. With the ANC controlling two thirds of the votes in parliament, many of the other parties seem to be abstaining from raising their voice. One can’t be sure if it’s whether they are worried about their future in parliament if they go up against the ANC or they just feel it’s not worth the time.
The EFF’s presence has certainly brought a breath of fresh air to parliament. The debates have incited interest in the nation’s politics among the youth. Indeed, Julius Malema is fairly young himself. He relates to the youth. Are his methods orthodox? Most interestingly not, but they get the job done; they get the message across.
Before the EFF, controversy and interest from the public in parliamentary debates were low. Was it the jargon? Were there too many intellectuals talking in huge words and not dumbing it down for the everyday man on the ground? The current election debates have the masses interested. The EFF speaks whatever they feel needs to be said, they seem willing to voice out any opinion and the some of the heads in parliament support them.
We are seeing a coalition in parliament that is similar to the ANC Youth League of 1977 that was present in the United Nations. It’s “rise of the underdogs” scenery. They seem to serve the public, with Julius Malema adamant on his notion that the ANC allegedly massacred the Marikana miners. He refused to withdraw his statement which resulted in them being dispelled during a parliamentary session.
The days are too little to effectively conclude whether this is an attack on the African National Congress or if they are serving the public’s interest and it all just amazingly coincides with the ANC being under duress.