This article critically examines the first year in the existence of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the newest left-wing party in South Africa. It argues that the EFF is a product of the post-Marikana massacre political landscape, characterized by serious questioning of the African National Congress’s (ANC) hegemony and a reconfiguration of left forces. The new party is arguably best comprehended as a paradox, reflecting the fragmented and fluid character of contentious politics at this conjuncture. The EFF is the most significant youth movement and the first major left split from the ANC in the post-1994 era. It has an explicitly anticapitalist program that has attracted considerable support. Yet, in both its style and political substance the new party remains shackled to its history in the ruling alliance of the ANC. In particular, its commitment to a vanguardism inspired by Stalinism threatens to limit the EFF’s potential of becoming an integral part of the mass-based struggles and left realignment in the country.

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