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Julius Malema: Potential Kingmaker in South Africa's Election

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Ayize claire

May 28, 2024

Julius Malema: Divisive EFF Leader Poised to Shape South Africa's Political Future

At a 2020 rally in Senekal, Malema's ability to manage racial tensions was evident as EFF supporters faced off with white supremacists until a peaceful interaction diffused the situation. Despite Malema's controversial reputation, his party's stance on immigration, advocating for the free movement of Africans, sets it apart in a nation with prevalent anti-immigrant sentiment.
Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)

The leadere of EFF who broke away from the African National Congress (ANC), could become a pivotal figure in South Africa's upcoming election. If the ANC loses its majority, Malema might even emerge as a kingmaker or deputy president.


This possibility alarms investors and the white upper-middle class due to the EFF's radical proposals, including the nationalization of mines and land seizures from white farmers. These policies are seen as threats to Africa's most industrialized economy and to existing privileges.


Malema's message of addressing racial and economic disparities resonates with his base, which includes unemployed Black youths and middle-class students facing economic challenges. Despite the ANC's role in ending apartheid, economic inequality remains a significant issue, with a third of South Africans, including many educated Black voters, unemployed.


Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, acknowledges the EFF's accurate portrayal of unresolved racial issues but notes the party's limited appeal among those in extreme rural poverty.


The EFF's socialist-inspired image, marked by red shirts and berets, garnered over 10% of votes in the 2019 national and 2021 local elections. However, Malema's extravagant lifestyle and allegations of corruption have drawn criticism.

At a 2020 rally in Senekal, Malema's ability to manage racial tensions was evident as EFF supporters faced off with white supremacists until a peaceful interaction diffused the situation.


Despite Malema's controversial reputation, his party's stance on immigration, advocating for the free movement of Africans, sets it apart in a nation with prevalent anti-immigrant sentiment.


Malema's background as the son of a domestic worker and his rise to ANC Youth League president underscore his political journey. His supporters affectionately call him "Juju," while detractors use terms like "firebrand" and "populist." Despite a brief flirtation with xenophobia in 2022, Malema's consistent focus remains on challenging economic and racial inequalities.

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