Analysis: Malema expulsion clears the path for Zuma

File: Julius Malema, Mangaung 2011 Julius Malema helped Jacob Zuma rise to power but they then fell out

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He was never going to go quietly.

Julius Malema - the swaggering, articulate, comic, bullying, Hugo Chavez of South African politics - had come to believe in his own hype.

It is a neat irony that he has now been expelled from the party that created him for refusing to accept that the ANC had the right to suspend him.

So what next?

Nothing precipitous, I suspect. The police and tax inspectors who have been carefully investigating Mr Malema's affairs will no doubt be quietly asked to wait a decent interval before moving in - just to avoid the appearance that any of this might have been stage-managed.

As for President Jacob Zuma - he must be purring with satisfaction at the way his most public enemy has been neutered. But perhaps he should be counting his blessings instead. It could have ended very differently.

Who is Julius Malema?

  • Born 1981, joined ANC aged 9
  • Had military training in 1990s
  • 2008: Elected ANC Youth League leader
  • 2008: Vowed to "kill" for Jacob Zuma
  • 2009: Said woman who alleged she had been raped by Zuma had had a "nice time" - later disciplined
  • Called for mines to be nationalised and white-owned farms to be seized
  • 2010: Disciplined for undermining Zuma by voicing support for Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe
  • 2011: Court rules his anthem "Shoot the Boer [White farmer]" is hate speech
  • Called for the overthrow of Botswana's government
  • Criticised for lavish lifestyle

Mr Malema was a creature of his times - a man who articulated the rage and frustration of South Africa's poor, marginalised black community, while embodying some of the aspirational hopes of a country littered with shiny new shopping malls, and also representing the uglier post-Mandela realities of a corrupt, show-your-bling political culture that barely notices the contempt in which it is held.

He was over- and under-estimated in equal measures - as bullies so often are.

The last time I went to interview him at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, I'd just come from one of the open-sewers-and-corrugated-shack townships outside the city. Most people I spoke to there seemed torn between sheer enjoyment of Julius's barbed wit and brazenly populist agenda - he had a genius for grabbing the headlines - and embarrassment at his divisive racial taunts and Mugabe-esque rhetoric.

When I mentioned my impressions to him, he brushed them aside. He was a formidable debater, and no fool. And he had an agenda - built around nationalisation and the seizure of white-owned land.

Premature celebrations?

In a country led by a party that, by trying to hog almost every corner of the political spectrum, often seems to stand for nothing but the preservation of its own power, Mr Malema stuck to his ideological guns. No wonder President Zuma - a consensus politician who seems genuinely alarmed by the prospect of trying to end a policy debate - found Mr Malema so threatening.

It is too early, of course, to know whether Mr Malema will be found guilty of abusing his position, cheating his taxes, or any of the other allegations which President Zuma's friends have been aggressively briefing the media about. But the battle is over. Mr Zuma is virtually assured of another term as president.

And yet, Mr Zuma must surely wonder - what if Julius Malema had been less swayed by the lure of quick wealth? What if he had emerged as an unstoppable political force? And what will happen now if someone less absurd, less hypocritical, picks up that baton and runs, hard and fast, at the head of an angry crowd?

Andrew Harding Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Julias for me is a scary young man who could put the country´s future in Jeopardy.He just needs to grow up and mature in to real leadership.he needs not dissapoint not only south africa as a whole but those who fought hard for the liberation of both black and white South Africans.Mandela talks peace and unity,why not follow him.whats the rage all about????

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    When will the BBC get its reporting right? South Africa is NOT led by a PARTY but by a COALITION, which is part of the reason it is such a mess and going downhill - just think about what is going on behind the scenes between the communists, unionists and nationalists - this has helped create the drift that leaves room in which people like Malema can emerge and stay at large for a long time

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    As a Zimbo I am offended by attitudes that seem to think it is acceptable for land taken under the Land Husbandry, Land Tenure and Land Aprtment Acts of Rhodesia to remain in the hands of a handful whites!! Had land been taken from other black farmers and given to blacks noone would be talking about Mugabe as a dictator today. SA has similar land problems and they cannot be wished away..

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    The official (sic) unemployment rate for under 30s in South Africa currently, is above 50% and every one of those is a potential vote for Malema. Dislike him or not unless that radically changes he is going to be the face of future South Africa and frankly who can blame them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I was in Johannesburg in September when Malema was interviewed by the ANC and saw the ANC youth league riots on the news. The Afrikaans people I spoke to were genuinely scared at the prospect of Malema getting into power and were convinced (as I am) that he is fully backed and supported by Mugabe. It is just a shame that he is not completely gone and there is no credible alternative to Zuma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Zuma is part of a group (including Maharaj and Yengeni) who used money flowing from the arms deal to take control of the ANC away from the Mandela/Mbeki faction. They bought ANCYL support as part of this. But since then, ANCYL has changed sides. The Zuma faction is trying to neutralize the opposition (Selebi convicted, Malema expelled) but hasn't completely succeeded yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    ANC officials' rationale for delaying activation of earlier suspension appears to be that, ahead of argument in the High Court, they should bend over backwards to be seen as fair to youth league president. They are keen to avoid a drawn-out High Court case with a judicial finding that the ANC violated Malema's rights or breached due process. The process could thus drag out for months.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Malema has until next week to submit argument over sentence. Inevitably, he will appeal any NDC sentence to the NDCA, which will take several weeks to confirm/vary decision. Malema can, and inevitably will, then ask the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) to consider NDC finding. NEC has discretion on whether to do so; its authority is limited to sending the matter back to NDC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    NDCA found Malema, Secretary General Sindiso Magaqa & Spokesman Floyd Shivambu, guilty of ill-discipline, bringing ANC into disrepute & sowing divisions within the party. But it also found the National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) had erred in not giving Malema an opportunity to plead in mitigation of the five-year suspension.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Julius Malema's career in S.A.'s ruling African National Congress (ANC) appears over, but it could be months before he is removed. Confirmation last weekend (4 February 2012) by Cyril Ramaphosa, Chair of the ANC's National Disciplinary Committee of Appeals (NDCA), of Malema's conviction, set seal for removal. But there are inevitable steps in the ANC's slow disciplinary process...

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    This idea that Malema spoke for the angry, poor, disenfranchised majority is nonsense. He has just been a cudgel for a faction within the ANC to progress their agenda and enrich and enpower themselves over the Zuma faction. All his Marxist rhetoric about nationalisation, land grabs etc has been a ploy to suck journalists in, gain attention and create headlines. He is a false prophet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    There are Malemas in every country. I lived in South Africa in the 70s and it was a vile , evil country full of hatred for non caucasians. I went there 2 yeras ago and it was a modern country with no hint of revenge for the evil they suffered. Those who cant carry out evil of apartheid are now full of hatred for the rainbow nation but we dont care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Malema is a angry young man and not a politicien. If he wants to be a leader must be the leader of everyone. he can follow example of Mandela or of his uncles PRESIDENT FOR LIFE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Be warned !!! this is just the beginning for this tyrant in waiting. Now he is no longer constrained within the structures of the ANC and is free to develop his own. Remember he strikes a chord with a majority who is still poor, still marginalised and still very angry. Rainbow's are sadly illusions :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    In his old age, Mandela must be disheartened by the way his party and country have sunk into comic depravity.

    This article compares Malema to Chavez - but perhaps a young Idi Amin is a better analogy.

    Can't the ANC find people of calibre, or will South Africa become what the Greeks called a "kakocracy" - government by the worst of its citizens?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    It never ceases to amaze me that brutish racist war mongerers like him always seem to do well in Africa at the expense of the silent, moderate people who actually contribute something meaningful to society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Mr Malema, learn from Mandela; accept your faith and spend sometime in jail, then come back with momentum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Today's African Proverb - “A man's pride brings him low - but a man of lowly spirit gains” .... how apt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.


    "Black Power" ???

    Anyone posting anything about White Power would be swiped off this board straight away. Does racism only run one way?

    Surely you can see that Malema is an embarrasment and the sort of person who scares off anyone planning on investing in SAs future.

    Everyone Power!!!


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