Carl Niehaus’ Political Move: Delusional or Revolutionary

By Tshegofatso Makola

It has been weeks since we were all hit by the news that the former spokesperson of Carl Niehaus was to begin his political movement. This, following his expulsion from the ANC on issues of misconduct. With Niehaus announcing his intimate team as a part of his steering committee, many have truly questioned the validity of his new political movement. Is this choice revolutionary or is it just another sign of delusion?

What began as a back-and-forth between the party and Niehaus spiraled into a dirty game of chess. With Niehaus being left with nothing but a king- himself and a few pawns- disgruntled members of the ANC, he proved to be a novice and no match for the ANC- the grandmaster at this game. Niehaus’ inevitable loss saw the ANC take their final blow, leaving Niehaus with no political home. 

However, that was short-lived. Within days of his expulsion, Carl Niehaus made several attempts to rise from the ashes, from appealing his expulsion with his version of resignation to gathering his own Twitter army and even announcing his ambitions to start his new movement. 

Niehaus is not new to running when it gets hot, with him known to have exited the party years ago. One would then question, is this new political move an act of delusion or revolution. 

When speaking on his decision to no longer proceed with his appeal against his expulsion from the ANC, Niehaus spoke of how the ANC has reached a point of no return adding that the party was no longer what it used to be when he joined. 

Before criticising this view one ought to acknowledge that such sentiments have been echoed before. Former member of the party and current leader of the EFF, Julius Malema has also been quoted in the past referring to the ANC as a “former liberation movement".

The question then becomes, is there some truth to this view, moreover, would the ANC stepping away from the role of being a liberation movement be so bad? One could concede that there is some truth to what Niehaus has expressed. 

The ANC has changed. One can argue that the ANC abandoned its mandate of being a liberation movement as soon as it won the majority vote in the 1994 election. The ANC had to step up and become a political party, however, does this mean that they should according to Niehaus abandon or water down the ideals of the liberation movement? 

Should the ANC be worried? 

To truly answer this question, one ought to look at estranged members of the ANC and their political careers thereafter. Two types of members can be categorised: The first sees a member that immediately goes on to make political success, whilst the latter describes members who find themselves in political limbo for a while until a miraculous 

One that is easily remembered is the current President of the EFF, Julius Malema. He, just like Carl Niehaus was a dedicated member of the ANC, and despite being heard saying that he “would die for the ANC”, went on to build his political career outside of the organisation.

Dr. Makhosi Khoza is the latter. Having found herself in limbo being ostracised for her anti-Zuma sentiments, Khoza left the ANC in search of something else, eventually forming her own party African Democratic Change (ADeC).

Within less than a year, Khoza had already left the party citing her retirement from politics. Fast forward to 2021, and Makhosi Khoza was now a member of ActionSA. After back and forth and drama in between, her membership at the party was no more.

Many may argue that Makhosi Khoza is a bitter individual with no sense of respect for party lines and values. I argue that although that might be true, many more politicians are doing the same, such as Carl Niehaus himself.

This argument allows one to see that the ANC has little to worry about. Carl Niehaus and his movement, the Radical Economic Transformation Movement are not likely to sway the support of that many supporters of the ANC.

The fact remains, although it is a new start, it's a start based on the foundation of the ANC and its members, some of whom are feasting on this buffet of choice as they join Niehaus' movement but still maintain their ANC membership.

Niehaus' new political path ought to show us two things, firstly, that there is some truth to his views and secondly, that no one truly is a saint. 

Will this be enough to catapult this small movement into a political party in the future, or is Niehaus' political move, simply a delusion? 

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