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Is Zuma home and dry after Malema’s expulsion?

May 18, 2012

By Cosmas Butunyi

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress may have expelled the rubble-rousing youth league president, Julius Malema, but challenges still remain for President Jacob Zuma, who is seeking a second term in a race that he is considered the frontrunner.

Observers say that Malema, who is considered one of the most prominent members of the party to openly break from Zuma, still can be a thorn in his side even though he is permanently barred from party-related events. He may use his expulsion to sharpen his criticism against Zuma’s government.

Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, says that while numerous predictions are being made of a possible Zuma victory in December, ‘anything can happen’ due to the changing balance of power in the party.

“People who sympathise with him could become influential and bring him back,” Zakhele told Reuters.

It is nearly impossible for Malema to return to the party before its electoral meeting at the end of the year. He would first need the approval of the ANC’s National Executive Committee, which is led by Zuma and stacked with his supporters. Even if he were to win over the NEC, Malema does not have the support of ANC delegates now to win reinstatement.

“Malema will recede into the background; power is already shifting away from him. The accumulation of his troubles will keep him occupied but we might still expect some noise from the Malema faction that Zuma has sidelined before December,” argues Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.

Malema’s ouster could also complicate things for challengers to Zuma who are linked to the former youth leader including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Do you think this is the end to Malema’s push for ANC leadership? Is Zuma’s quest for second term been strengthened by Malema’s expulsion from the party?

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