Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Danger signs
Julius Malema is fast becoming a liability for the ANC in his linking of cause and effect between the ANCYL and Mbeki's demise. Whilst many in South Africa have seen him as a liability for the country's image, the Zuma faction of the ANC have used Malema well as a hyperactive mouthpiece, usually stating things that they cannot say as "elders" of the party.

The problem though, is that they've let the dog out, and now have the problem of reigning it back in. Malema's bravado yesterday in "claiming" credit for Mbeki's ousting, and basically stating that the ANCYL sets the party agenda, presents a huge issue for the ANC.

At a time when the party needs to build to perceived strength of leadership, most especially around Motlanthe and Zuma, every public word Malema utters detracts from this aim. The more Malema shouts, the weaker the ANC leadership looks.

Perhaps, and more simply put, it does reflect the lack of strength in leadership and the power vacuum that exists within the upper ranks of the ANC at present. Zuma wants a more statesman role (vis-a-vis Mandela) as opposed to a strong leadership role, but unfortunately that's not what this country demands right now. As long as this weak leadership exists within the fractured upper echelons of the party, Malema's voice will remain the loudest. And that is a very dangerous perception for an ANC trying to build both its inner confidence and its trust with the electorate.