from Africa in Transition

South Africa: Malema’s View of the ANC

November 21, 2011

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Suspended ANCYL president Julius Malema (L) gestures as his secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa looks on during a media briefing at the party's headquarters in Johannesburg, November 16, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a reader response to last week’s post ("Malema Suspended From ANC") from Jim Sanders of Burke, VA.

Julius Malema’s policy suggestions—mine nationalization and land expropriation—have spurred a reaction from elites, especially those in the financial community and press, who no doubt welcome his suspension from the ruling African National Congress (ANC). But his basic criticism of the ANC—that it is roiled by internal dissension that it is trying to hide, and that the party is out of touch both with the times and the realities of South Africa—is close to the mark. Malema reacted to his recent five-year suspension from the party by saying the ruling party is trying to “stifle debate,” and he advocated allowing youth leaders to speak out. He asserted that he was “inspired by fearless Nelson Mandela.”

Around the world, Malema has a lot of company, as populist movements surge in the wake of elite failures. Seventeen years after the end of apartheid, many South Africans remain in poverty. If he abandons his advocacy of mine nationalization and land expropriation, and focuses on the ANC’s weaknesses, Malema may be able to place himself on the wave of popular anger toward traditional elites, in which case the ANC’s suspension of him could prove counterproductive and President Zuma could be in trouble politically. South Africa appears to be approaching a crossroads. That too may give pause to those who believe emerging markets can bail the West out of its economic morass. The ‘BRICs’ are not necessarily sound building blocks for a new economic order.

 

Jim Sanders

Burke, VA

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