Originally published in Wits Vuvuzela, March 16, 2018.
FEATURED PHOTO: SRC president Oredireste Masebe (left) contests Prof Adam Habib’s (right) views on EFF. Photo: Provided
SRC president believes that the vice-chancellor’s views on the EFF have no basis.
Student Representative Council (SRC) president Oredireste Masebe, who is affiliated to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has refuted statements expressed by Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib that the EFF should be considered a “proto-fascist movement” because of the party’s populist rhetoric.
Habib is wrong about the EFF – SRC president https://t.co/3qSLgDeBNb by Tshego Mokgabudi
— IG: WitsVuvuzela (@WitsVuvuzela) March 16, 2018
In an article titled ‘Is Ramaphosa’s ANC managing the challenge from the EFF?’, published in the Daily Maverick on Tuesday, March 12, Habib argues that the EFF is “no different” from the Five Star movement in Italy and Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, based on its appeal to young people, use of populism and practice of “racist” ideology.
Masebe told Wits Vuvuzela that besides the simple similarity in age demographics, the EFF could not be compared to these parties.
“Julius Malema is not a populist, he is simply someone who is championing the popular needs and issues of the society at large,” he said.
“What Adam Habib is failing to understand is that the EFF is not a populist movement, it is a popular one,” Masebe added.
In his opinion piece, Habib analyses the relationship between the African National Congress and the EFF since Jacob Zuma’s resignation as president, arguing that the EFF owed much of its existence to the former president.
“The EFF may be younger and perhaps even more politically adept, but its track record is as populist, corrupt and administratively incompetent as the Zuma camp ever was,” writes Habib.
To which Masebe responds: “Again, I’m telling you, I think Habib was a bit high when he wrote this thing. Because a lot of these points, imagine, I, an undergraduate, can argue against this and this man has how many PhDs?”
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela from Harvard University where he is on sabbatical, Habib had advice for the likes of Masebe.
“Those who disagree must do so, but it would be in their interest to think through the argument, and then disagree by explaining why.
“I wrote this as an intellectual contribution on a matter of national importance, and it is the right of others to respond intellectually. This after all is a university and the contest of ideas in this institution is sacred,” Habib said.
Masebe said he planned to respond to Habib’s article with an open letter to the Wits community.