Pathologizing Black Politics: An Analysis of the Representation of the Economic Freedom Fighters and Black Nationalism in the Media
Phumlani Majavu (University of South Africa)

Historically black nationalism in South Africa has often been characterised and discussed as a pathological form of politics. The ANC Youth League of the 1940s, the Pan Africanist Congress and the Black Consciousness Movement, before it became fashionable, were all once described as irrational and racist political formations. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which often presents itself as an ideological reincarnation of these black political movements, has also been met with the same onslaught that its black nationalist predecessors faced. The EFF has been described as a ‘right-wing’, ‘fascist’, ‘neo-Nazi’, and as the foremost ‘racist’ political party in the country. In this paper, I argue that these characterisations of the EFF are driven by a white discourse that is hellbent on silencing and delegitimising political formations that put race and racism at the centre of our political dialogue. I argue that the pathological characterisation of the EFF arises from the party’s critique of anti-black racism in the country: An anti-black racism that, in various modes, is there to maintain and perpetuate whiteness in South Africa. Rather than this paper being a defence of the EFF, the paper analyses how whiteness as a political ideology continues to shape our understanding of politics.