"I met some ordinary African fellow at the airport who stopped me and said: 'Though I'm not from this country, my brother, we appreciate your work. I'm praying for one thing.' Then I asked: 'What are you praying for?' He said: 'I pray for the ANC to make the mistake of electing Zuma's wife. Then it's going to be obvious for you, my brother.'
"They are convinced the ANC's election of that woman is going to be something else..."
But surely he sees Ramaphosa as a threat?
"Cyril is going to be a very good poster boy for the ANC in order to attract business and all that. But he won't be an appealing fellow when it comes to the masses on the ground."
Malema's optimism about his party's prospects is dampened only by his frustration that, no matter what he does, the EFF is just not succeeding in having a meaningful presence in the coastal provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.
"KZN is a difficult province for the EFF. We don't seem to be performing well in KZN, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. We have since taken a decision that we must do more work there."
Next weekend, the EFF will hold a rally in Durban to celebrate its fourth birthday, as part of its efforts to make inroads in Zuma's heartland.
Without a strong presence in the three provinces - especially KwaZulu-Natal, which has the second-highest number of registered voters after Gauteng - the EFF's influence is unlikely to grow greatly.
However, even as he builds his party, Malema is keeping a close eye on another likely scenario that may result from the coming ANC conference: a breakup of the ruling party or its tripartite alliance.
There is widespread speculation that those who back Ramaphosa are considering splitting from the ANC if Zuma gets his way and the Dlamini-Zuma slate wins the party elections in December.
If Ramaphosa - the man who, in his capacity as chair of the ANC's disciplinary committee of appeals, expelled Malema from the party - were to form a splinter party, would Malema work with him?