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Malema: the gadfly Zuma just can't swat as Mangaung nears

The Times Editorial | 2012-05-15 00:41:44.0

The Times Editorial: Julius Malema has, if nothing else, chutzpah.

Comparing himself to a rough diamond that must go through a "thorough polishing process", the former ANC Youth League leader vowed that he would return to the party that ejected him.

Speaking in Johannesburg, Malema boldly declared: "I will lead this ANC."

Malema, of course, has repeatedly asserted that he remains the president of the ANC Youth League because his members have refused any alternative.

By constantly speaking to the media, airing his views on the party's elective conference in December in Mangaung, Malema must be a major irritant for incumbent party president Jacob Zuma.

For, no matter what the ANC appears to do, Malema will just not go away. Now, unfettered by the party's constitution, he is at liberty to make pronouncements without consequences.

But it is difficult to gauge what influence he holds beyond that on those within the youth league who might either be too loyal or too intimidated to disagree with him publicly.

It is certainly doubtful that anyone with real presidential ambitions will openly support Malema or use him as a campaigner.

But, having banished Malema - to the point of ordering that he be denied access to ANC premises - the party's edicts have had little success in shutting him up.

And clear, too, is the fact that Malema is still capable of drawing the media to his press conferences, perhaps precisely because it is an election year for the party. The more dissent his utterances sow within the ANC, the better perhaps for those who want to unseat Zuma.

Malema obviously has no intention of slinking away into a dark corner - back to the cattle he was minding in Limpopo, from which, he says, he was called to lead the youth league.

Now it is a case of watching Luthuli House's next move and the damage control party leaders will use against the young man once said by Zuma to be presidential stock.

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