What the EFF happened in Tokai?

Phranki Lombard, Kirstenhof

It was with some intrigue that I noted the application of the EFF to protest in Tokai on Thursday June 10 ( ”EFF picket over ’poisoned tree’,” Bulletin, June 12).

As a resident of Kirstenhof and a person who takes an active interest in both my community and politics, I wondered why the red berets, who otherwise have had no interest in this community, suddenly were so keen to visit.

We all should be activists for basic human rights and the extension of those rights in our lives and society in general. Was I so delusional as to have missed the abhorrent racism on my own doorstep? Is Tokai a bigoted community spreading “swart gevaar”, raising old South African flags and talking of the “good old days”? Certainly not.

On Thursday constitutional rights were well protected in the Tokai community and civil society, even when radical and moderate views collided in the so-called “leafy suburbs”.

Resident associations, neighbourhood watches and general community leaders all said, “Let the EFF come, let them stand for what they stand for.” After all, we live in a democracy that protects the right to protest peacefully.

While this is so, we also cannot give the EFF more relevance than they deserve. I would hasten to say that the dog-whistling by this political party to tackle a single instance without the possession of all the facts, and to paint an entire community as racist is the worst form of political expediency, dangerous, and contrary to the spirit of nation-building. The issue of the poisoned tree was handed to SAPS (the correct authority to determine any culpability) in 2020 for investigation. And yet the EFF’s call was to blame the City of Cape Town, which reveals quite a lot about the EFF’s motivations.

But then the EFF are not interested in nation-building. The EFF commander-in-chief has twice been found guilty of hate speech and the same people who claim to express outrage on behalf of the country’s poorest, are complicit in their exploitation (VBS and multi-million rand bridges and roads in Limpopo, built by companies with reported links to EFF leaders, washed away within weeks of completion).

In the 2019 national government elections, the ANC had a relatively good showing in Tokai compared to their 2016 result. The DA took a drop as the country seemed to be rallying around “Ramaphoria” and a new dawn. That new dawn is now darkness with level 4 load shedding. But as we draw closer to the 2021 local government elections, we can expect more stunts by the likes of the EFF: political parties who divide communities by race and drive a narrative that dangerously threatens democracy and cohesion.

Across ideological divides, we can all be accountable to live to the 1994 ideals, to build a nation that is united and non-racialised. That should be the dream and the call.

• This letter was sent to the EFF media spokesperson as a right to reply, on Sunday June 13, providing a deadline for Wednesday. At the time of publication, they had not responded.