From the editor
love him or fear him, you have to admit that EFF leader Julius Malema is an extremely talented politician. Malema and his red berets are expected to win 12% of the vote in the upcoming municipal elections – nearly double the just more than 6% they won in the 2014 national elections. The EFF is therefore no longer a social experiment, but a serious political party that is here to stay, and whose policies deserve serious scrutiny, as Daily Maverick’s Richard Poplak pointed out at the publication’s annual The Gathering in Midrand on 10 June.
In this week’s Spotlight (see page 38), we highlight some of the EFF’s election promises (which entail largely self-sustaining municipalities where nobody goes hungry, corruption doesn’t exist and potholes are fixed within 48 hours).
Being a smooth-talking politician, Malema shrugged off questions on how municipalities will be able to afford all the free services promised to the poor. Our problem, he says, is not that South Africa doesn’t have the resources, but rather that our priorities are all messed up. Instead of building bicycle lanes in Sandton, for example, we should be spending money on providing water and sanitation to the people of Alexandra.
Malema says politicians love to “sit on their minds” rather than think of innovative solutions to grow revenue streams. Why sell municipal land for property development, for example, when you can rather partner with the developers and retain an equity stake in the project?
One can certainly disagree with many of the ways in which Malema and the EFF aim to redress the wrongs of the past – land expropriation without compensation would be an economic disaster, to put it mildly – but he is right to say that we need a serious rethink about how and where we allocate resources.
In an ideal world, we should have bicycle lanes in Sandton – as the economic heartbeat of the country, anything should be done to improve its logistics – and piped water and flush toilets for every Alex household. But ours is not an ideal world. Ours is a world where nearly 8.2m South Africans are unemployed; where 35% of households receive no salary income; where half of South Africans live below the poverty line. So damn straight we need to get our priorities right.