Malema, China and the ‘Mugabe turn’

julius_malemaJOHANNESBURG - The president of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema (pictured), has positioned himself at the confluence of the imperial interests of China in southern Africa and those of a faction in the ANC, indicating the possibility of a new Cold War in the sub-continent.

In a speech at Colesburg in the Northern Cape on Saturday, Malema repeated previously made threats to white-owned and western property interests in South Africa and added that “if investors were to leave, the Chinese would come in. ‘The Chinese will work with anybody,’ he said”.

This adds a sharp focus to Malema’s positioning of himself as the political representative in South Africa of the regime of Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) in Zimbabwe, which is in debt economically, politically and militarily to China.

Should Malema’s drive to set the policy agenda of the government succeed, this Mugabe turn’ in the ANC would represent a massive threat to the sovereignty, economic welfare and democratic heritage of South Africa, and to the continent.

It represents a radical widening in the fault-line that has opened up within the ANC, between an Africanist tendency represented by Malema (backed by the ANCYL) and that of the South African Communist Party (backed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu): a division which is fundamental to the survival or collapse of the Tripartite Alliance between the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu. In its turn, the SACP now faces the most severe challenge to its leading influence within the ANC (in terms of the ‘dual membership’ of CP members within the ANC) since the breakaway of the Pan Africanist Congress in 1959, fifty years ago.

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