EFF’s 10 years of struggle

The EFF has been a corroboration that love is the ability to organise ourselves for mass power in our quest to fight for economic freedom in our lifetime, says the writer. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The EFF has been a corroboration that love is the ability to organise ourselves for mass power in our quest to fight for economic freedom in our lifetime, says the writer. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jul 7, 2023


By Poppy Mailola

The year 2023 marks a monumental 10th anniversary of the truest manifestation of a socialist movement in Africa, the EFF.

The past 10 years have been a tangible orchestration of consistent moments of love. From inception in the year 2013, the EFF was a bold declaration of the quest to restore love, care and compassion to the dejected, dismembered and forgotten in black communities.The self-imposed responsibility of fighting to restore the dignity of black people in the country the EFF has embodied, is the precise locus of many of our decisions as young and old, black, and white to support the movement and actively take part in the revolutionary journey towards our economic emancipation as a nation.

Since the establishment of the EFF in 2013 to date, the legitimate land occupation programmes have rendered a loud whisper to the ears of the establishment on valuable lessons. That if there was a time to choose between the rich and powerful and the poor and landless, the EFF would relentlessly stand on the side of the downtrodden manje namhlanje.

The land occupation programmes were not only a significant demonstration of confronting the historic land dispossession of black people but a programme that actively placed the politics of land ownership in the hearts and minds of all South Africans. The black communities who were made to believe that liberation was imminent, without reversing the ramifications of land thuggery by the colonial and apartheid regimes, was as futile as the modelled strength of the government of the day.

These were not only classroom and seminar lessons but lessons that reached even the most destitute families, as per the assertion of Bell Hooks: “To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling.”

From 2013, it was clear that EFF members set out to love our people, not only in rhetoric but by placing our bodies on the line to achieve what we had set out for in the immediate, for our people, by our people and with our people in our communities. These were actions of justice and not reconciliation. This was love. This act of love saw the sacrificial essence of life itself through the countless arrests of fighters over the years.

In a true show of the understanding of Marxism on the power of building a mass-based organisation premised on exercising the power of the people, the EFF committed itself to basing its growth in the homes, backyards, taxi ranks, informal settlements, townships, villages, suburbia and institutions of higher learning with vigour and through person-to-person interactions.

The consistent demonstration of building mass power through protest action has seen even the biggest retailers retreat on undermining black people. It is also the reason why a worker seeks out the EFF when exploited, and a victim of rape facing injustice in our courts and policing systems will head to the Winnie Madikizela Mandela House for refuge and a fair shot at justice.

The EFF has been a corroboration that love is the ability to organise ourselves for mass power in our quest to fight for economic freedom in our lifetime.

From resolving the water and electricity issues in our communities and being readily available to our neighbours, even in the twilight, to insourcing of workers in municipalities and institutions of higher learning; the message has been consistent: socialism is love. From appearing in court cases, hand in hand with families of women who died at the hands of vicious murderers and rapists, to including sanitary towels as part of EFF People’s Assembly packages; the demonstration of love and political consciousness was definitive of our character as a movement. Moreover, black people in the diaspora have rightfully related to the insistence that liberty isn’t a one-man island but an opportunity to unite progressive forces on the tenets of dignity and emancipation. It is not a shallow-based take on rainbowism that refuses to be cognisant of prioritising justice over reconciliation.

Thousands of orphans across the country and children from indigent families adorn dignified school uniforms because of the relentless show of generosity of EFF public representatives, and branch command teams in our wards; and numerous pensioners are housed in decent structures due to the EFF, not as a show of baseless philanthropy but as a true exercise of building the essence of community and love for one another.

The recent and ongoing Andries Tatane Cleaning Campaign is another of many EFF programmes that denote the commitment of remembering those before us and actively entrenching the roots of our principles in our communities. And in true show of what the EFF is far from, which is elitism, the tangent of environmentalism isn’t indicated on papers presented at seminars on environmental feminism and activism.

On the contrary, it is palpable mechanisms that knit together efforts of addressing issues that affect the poor the most due to the capitalistic remnants of poverty, structural racism, inequality, misogyny, gendered wage gaps, and economic gender-based violence against women and gays. Fighting for service delivery and doing it ourselves, despite not being the official government, has ensconced our commitment to dignifying our people with cleanliness. A commitment that eventually translates to the substance of black consciousness: a people deserving of dignity.

The EFF has evidently taken and carried the baton of socialist feminist activity that has historically ushered restorative justice effects like sexual reproductive health rights, subsidising of early childhood development facilities, establishment of safe homes for victims of abuse, maternity leave and access to education for women who were historically barred from accessing education. Insisting on public services through verbal and, subsequently, protest action has seen the most dejected in our societies becoming the trailblazers of what the political discourse of each day is and rendering daily victories that would require an entire literary book to encapsulate. That is love.

Assata Shakur perfectly captures the ethos of what the EFF set out to do in the year 2013 and has constantly remained true to this notion: “We need a revolution of the mind. We need a revolution of the heart. We need a revolution of the spirit. The power of the people is stronger than any weapon. A people’s revolution can’t be stopped. We need to be weapons of mass construction. Weapons of mass love. It’s not enough just to change the system. We need to change ourselves…Revolution is love.” The 10th year of the existence of the EFF is the mark of revolutionary love in South Africa and the continent.

* Poppy Mailola is the deputy secretary general of the EFF.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL.