The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) 10th anniversary at the FNB Stadium on July 29, 2023, was not short of Ripley’s Believe or Not spectacle.
The stadium that the EFF filled with throngs of followers clad in red, is the largest in the continent and ranked the 5th biggest in the world with a seating capacity of 94 736 people.
The EFF did what many thought could not be done. It brought joy to the tears of the widows of the Marikana massacre, which occurred on the 16th of August 2012. The tearing pain of the loss of their husbands was the source from which the EFF drew inspiration to launch as a political party on the 26th of July the following year.
To the EFF and the widows of Marikana, July 29, 2023, is both a tear and smile. A tear for their dead husbands who were excruciatingly mowed down by a democracy reputed as the world’s best. A smile for a decade milestone marking the EFF’s existence they have tragically become an inextricable part of.
In the rough and tumble of SA politics, it would be foolhardy to have expected Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen to send EFF leader Julius Malema complementary red roses.
Neither should South Africa look forward to seeing Steenhuisen holding the door as courtesy to a political opponent were the two to meet at the entrance of Parliament in which all are by practice stand obligated to call each other honourable.
Treated to sight of a full capacity FNB Stadium, Steenhuisen literally and figuratively saw red. That the day was cloudless, and sky blue as the chosen colours of the DA he leads, was no consolation. The vexation with Malema’s striking hour of glory and compelling urge to burst his bubble, Steenhuisen’s vengeful histrionics observed no moment of reflection for the Marikana widows as being a special part of the South African population for which he claims unreserved care for. Neither did he exhibit empathy for the memory of their husbands killed on Women’s Month on that fateful Marikana koppie.
The husbands of Marikana widows were not killed due to the chant of a liberation song. They were killed for demanding a living wage and by live ammunition unleashed on them by a democracy Stenhuisen esteems, defends and respects. While democracy and the economy have defenders, black lives are left to fend for themselves. The angels that shun respect, decency, and dignity of black lives, are then left wondering why they run to the Red Devil Malema to burn their miseries with unflinching hellish fury.
Black lives laid to waste by a democratic government in Marikana still do not matter to the Steenhuisens of this world. Instead, it is the chant of ‘Kill the Boer’ that moves the DA leader to approach the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to help pierce Malema’s lips and seal them with the padlock of the law to silence the red beret’s irritating lamentations about unending black suffering.
This says much about how manufactured white fears are gathered, packaged, and parcelled out as believable staple diet for public consumption straight from Steenhuisen’s political play book without regard for black lives.
If the wording of ‘Kill the Boer’ chant could kill, what more dead bodies would be left without each game of a New Zealand rugby team performing the haka with exuberant aerobics against opposing teams, ending up with ominous gestures showing cutting of throats? Has Steenhuisen not seen this haka performance by the All Blacks rugby team? Tell me if the haka chant is a prelude for violence or inspiration declaring readiness to fight and win?
Is this outrage by Steenhuisen fit to be dismissed as mere politicking, unconscionable electioneering to woo Freedom Front+ voters to the DA fold, or simply a wayward rant of a desperate man that could not wait to rain on the grand parade of the red dots he has deemed enemy number one?
In as far as Malema is concerned, white fears have been stretched beyond elasticity to a ridiculous breaking point of irrationality to see the UN being dragged as most ready to adjudicate in favour of white fears and to hell with black lives.
Would Steenhusen’s rant see the UNHRC moved to rank white fears to matter more than black lives too? White fears continue to ordain themselves to matter more compared to black lives.
White fears matter and move white paternalistic concerns to rank top of mind, in news stakes for topicality, and (white fears) never fail to coax and move hearts and the state of the nation in their favour for deference, understanding and acceptability of whiteness to be forever unquestionably right and faultless. This is the superiority complex that whiteness brings to poison politics and public discourse.
Taking cue from incurable whiteness, societies, including those dubbed part of the free world, are desensitised to allow for the cheapening of black life and regular occurrence of black death to pass as normal.
This is not unique to South Africa. Unfounded white fears are made to weigh more than actual regularity of black deaths. This traces back to a lingering fear ‘of what if blacks were to do to whites what whites actually did to blacks’.
When the war broke out between Russia and Ukraine as proxy of US/UK/EU/NATO, the refugee crisis that swelled on the Poland border revealed the disdain with which blacks were treated.
The fleeing Ukrainians were not only given priority for safety but Polish/Ukrainian authority figures manning both transportation and exit points on either side of the two country’s borders exhibited infuriating conduct of distinctly putting black refugees in harm’s way in the scramble to flee the war zone.
In the circumstances, the UK/US/EU media found it odd to show whites with blond hair and blue-eyed scurrying for safety as refugees. In the superiority complex of unrepentant white fears, this refugee experience is unique to black lives. It was never thought possible to be a white experience.
As expected, in his hurried ‘fact-finding mission’ in Ukraine Steenhuisen missed the overt plight of black folks. He saw no evil nor heard evil that blacks were met with to write home about. He rushed back home, convened a media conference side by side with Ukrainian ambassador, Liubov Abravitova, on home soil. He assured Ukrainian ambassador solidarity of the DA that saw state buildings in the Western Cape draped in colours of the Ukrainian flag against South Africa’s non-aligned stance in the Russian-Ukraine war. None bothered about what became of black refugees. That was a revelation coming from a man masquerading as a paragon of a colour-blind, cross-border human rights defender.
Back home, actual loss of no less than 29 black lives that could have been avoidable due to unsafe drinking and cooking water in Hammanskraal has not moved Steenhuisen, his party or the Freedom Front+. The well measured Connie Mulder has not been heard either. It is the wording of a liberation chant that moves white people and their respective parties. Black deaths have become too familiar to move white parties or the governing party over an issue of water that has been plaguing Hammanskraal residents for more than 10 years.
Similarly, the country has gotten used to the disposability of black life. But the chant of a song that offends white fears does. Countless shack fires have been claiming black lives after black lives with horrific regularity. It is normal to think of human rights for people living in shacks.
The killing of blacks in Phoenix at the hands of fellow blacks of Indian extraction following the July 2020 unrest found its way to be lauded in DA election posters that declared: “The ANC called you racists” and “The DA calls you heroes”. Black deaths in Phoenix represented the DA’s unmindful instincts and disregard of black disposability. Blacks are of mere instrumental value for use, abuse and misuse for election purposes.
This must leave blacks in white parties in an awkward position. Black members of these parties must be finding the heart of a white liberal a loaded dice forever falling on the side of white fears and never in favour of actual redemption of imperiled black lives.
Putting all theatrics of white fears aside, at issue is not the chanting of a liberation song which transcends the borders of the EFF – but the unfinished business of the liberation project for which Malema has become a rallying force. It is this force that pulled all stops to see multitudes congregate at FNB Stadium.
Standing in Stuinhuisen’s shoes, It must be irritatingly tiring to keep hearing liberation chants sailing into one’s eardrums without vaguest clue of the plight that haunts the souls of black people to see or hear the plight and pain of their suffering.
The throngs that were at the red dots 10th anniversary are a picture of souls united to end their suffering in thought, planning, action, singing and chanting. It is truly regrettable that their dream to break the chains of suffering around them is the nightmare of those exempted from suffering. Written by Oupa Ngwenya, a Corporate Strategist, Writer and Freelance Journalist.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the content belong to the author and not Y, its affiliates, or employees.
Written by: Lindiwe Mabena