Defiant ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members meet on Thursday to draw up a battle plan to defend their suspended leader, but some analysts have already declared Julius Malema politically dead and buried.
A member of the ANCYL’s national executive committee, Thabo Kupe, confirmed that they would hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to chart the way forward after the ANC’s national disciplinary committee suspended Malema with immediate effect on Wednesday.
Early indications suggest that the league is not going to give up without a fight. North West chairman Papiki Baboile said the province would “never retreat or surrender” in its support for Malema.
His counterpart in the Northern Cape, Shadrac Tlhoale, also put his head on the block, saying: “We are not going to quit because of fear of being expelled. We are not shaken. We are not afraid.”
Other provincial youth leaders declined to comment.
Professor Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Rhodes and Joburg universities, said Malema had “no political future” following his latest suspension.
Friedman said recent events had created the impression that Zuma was “not in control of the situation”, but the latest move was an indication that he was now laying down the law.
Keith Gottschalk, a political analyst at the University of the Western Cape, said Malema was “clearly on the way down”.
“The way Malema addressed meetings over the past few weeks, where he basically repeated the things that led to him facing disciplinary charges in the first place, rather than apologising, was obviously the last straw (for the party leadership),” he said.
Asked whether Malema’s backers in the ANC could rehabilitate him, Gottschalk wondered whether anyone would actually want to.
“I was very surprised that (ANC treasurer) Mathews Phosa and (ANC deputy president) Kgalema Motlanthe agreed to speak with (Malema) recently, but I doubt this will happen again.”
He suggested that candidates planning to contest leadership positions at the party’s December conference were now likely to view Malema as politically toxic – and were likely to avoid him.