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With Juju out of the way ANC must get back to governing

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-03-02 00:36:40.0

The Times Editorial: There are many South Africans who hope Wednesday night's verdict on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema signals the end of an ANC era dominated by a rabble-rouser.

Many will hope, too, that the ANC will be able to concentrate its energies on governing South Africa instead of being distracted by the noise Malema has made about the economy, land distribution, nationalisation of mines and, most important, the road to Manguang, where a new party leader will be elected.

Now that Malema is all but banished from politics - bar a final appeal - there are many who hope he will get his just desserts, and that the taxman and law-enforcement agencies will ask questions about his business dealings and the wealth he acquired in his home province, Limpopo.

While his supporters threaten a defiance campaign against Luthuli House and the government, there is mostly relief that the Malema saga can be put on the backburner at last.

For far too long politics have been focused on the contest in the ANC between President Jacob Zuma and Malema, his erstwhile champion.

Fundamental issues have largely been pushed to the side - delivery of services, the affect of cadre deployment to key government positions and erosive corruption by state officials appointed by the ANC.

Equally important is the issue of Zuma's candidacy - for a second term as president of the ANC and, in effect, as president of South Africa.

The interrogation of Zuma as the right leader for the ANC in the 21st century is vital, particularly in terms of the succession debate within the party.

Malema is no longer a convenient distraction or smokescreen. It is time for the ANC to deal with what really matters - who is to lead the party that has just turned a century old and wants to continue governing this country.

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