Populism in South African politics? An analysis of 
the EFF election manifestos in 2014 and 2019

Calvert, Marcus (2021-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Following the end of apartheid and the establishment of democracy in the Republic of South Africa following the first democratic election in 1994, South Africa has been seen as “the miracle” of Africa (Booysen, 2018). The effects of apartheid continue to be felt, with those who were previously marginalized during apartheid, seeing little to no improvement in their lives (Bhorat & Kanbur, 2015:4). The political landscape has been dominated since 1994, by the two main political parties, the African National Congress (ANC) and their opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA), with each party presenting their own policies for the betterment of the country and lives of the citizens (Southall, 2020). The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were established as a result of a split within the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and the expulsion of the ANCYL leader, Julius Malema, in 2013 (Feketha, 2020). The EFF has seen success, with an increase in their support from the first national election they competed in, in 2014, and the most recent national election in 2019 (IEC, 2019). The EFF have presented more radical policies and ideas, and are self-described as “...Marxist-Leninist...” and brands the party as “a radical and militant economic emancipation movement” (EFF, 2020). Their left-wing policies and ideology has seen them being labelled as populist, and it is this which forms the focal point of the study. The study undertook to answer whether the EFF can be considered populist, and secondly, whether it has become more or less populist based on the rhetoric employed in their 2014 and 2019 electoral manifestos. The study provided a review of the literature of populism in order to arrive at the definition of populism, but also various approaches to populism, the causes of populism and the threat of populism. Hawkins (2009) provided a framework which was used, alongside Thematic Analysis (TA), to provide the data which formed the basis of the analysis. The findings were analysed and interpreted in order to determine that the EFF can be considered populist, based on the rhetoric used in their 2014 and 2019 electoral manifestos. In terms of whether the EFF have become more or less populist based on the rhetoric employed in their 2014 and 2019 manifesto, the conclusion which was reached was that the party had become more populist. The study had added to the literature regarding populism and given a different perspective to analysing populism in the context of South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Na die val van apartheid en na die eerste ware demokratiese verkiesing in 1994 wat die era van demokrasie in Suid-Afrika ingelei het, is Suid-Afrika gesien as die “Wonderwerk” van Afrika (Booysen, 2018). Die nagevolge van apartheid het egter voortgeduur en is nog steeds gevoel deur diegene wat onder apartheid gemarginaliseer was. Hierdie gemarginaliseerdes het geen of min verbetering in hulle lewenstyl en – wyses ervaar (Bhorat & Kanbur, 2015:4). Sedert 1994 is die politieke landskap oorheers deur twee groot politieke partye, naamlik die African National Congress (ANC) en die opposisie, die Demokratiese Alliansie (DA). Elkeen van hierdie partye het sy eie beleide voorgehou wat volgens hulle sou lei tot ʼn meer welvarende land en ʼn verhoging in die welvaart van Suid-Afrika en sy inwoners. (Southall, 2020). Die Ekonomiese Vryheidsvegters, beter bekend onder sy Engelse naam van die “Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)”, het ontstaan na ʼn skeuring in die ANC Jeugliga en die uitsetting van die Jeugliga se leier op daardie tydstip, Julius Malema, in 2013. (Feketha, 2020). Die EFF het stewige vordering getoon met ʼn toename in ondersteuning onder kiesers sedert hulle eerste deelname in die 1994 Nasionale Verkiesings tot en met die jongste Nasionale Verkiesings in 2019. (IEC, 2019). Die EFF se voorgestelde beleide en idees was meer radikaal van aard en is deur hulself beskryf as Marksisties-Leninisties en is die party voorgehou as ʼn “radikale en militante ekonomiese bevrydings beweging”. Die EFF se linksgesinde beleide en ideologieë het die party gebrandmerk as populisties en hierdie aspek vorm die kern van hierdie studie. Die doel van hierdie studie was primer om te bepaal of die EFF wel as populisties beskou kan word en tweedens, of die EFF meer of minder populisties geword het, gebaseer of die retoriek verkondig in die EFF se 2014 en 2019 verkiesingsmanifeste. Die studie verskaf ʼn hersiening oor literatuur met betrekking tot populisme, nie net ten einde ʼn definisie van populisme daar te stel nie, maar ook om verskillende benaderings tot populisme uit te lig, die oorsake van populisme asook die gevare wat populisme inhou. Hawkins (2009) het ʼn raamwerk daargestel wat, tesame met Tematiese Analise, gebruik was om die data te verskaf wat die basis van die analise gevorm het. Die bevindinge is geanaliseer en ge-interpreteer ten einde te bepaal of die EFF as populisties beskou kan word, gebaseer op die retoriek verkondig in die EFF se 2014 en 2019 verkiesingsmanifeste. In terme van die vraag of die EFF meer of minder populisties geword het, gebaseer op die retoriek verkondig in die EFF se 2014 en 2019 verkiesingsmanifeste, was die gevolgtrekking dat die party inderdaad meer populisties van aard geword het. Hierdie studie het bygedra tot n uitbreiding en verbreding van die beskikbare literatuur oor populisme en verskaf ook ʼn alternatiewe perspektief op die wyse waarop populisme geanaliseer kan word in ʼn Suid-Afrikaanse konteks.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123880
This item appears in the following collections: