Will South Africa be the next Zimbabwe?
Julius Malema, the 30-year old leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has attracted growing headlines since 2010 for his calls to nationalize South Africa’s mines, and to emulate Zimbabwe’s land redistribution program in order to rectify a wide wealth imbalance between the white minority, which accounted for 9% of the 50 million person nation according to a 2010 census. Malema proclaimed “The only option is to take the land without compensation, if you refuse to give us an alternative.”
Last month, he was convicted of hate speech for singing an inflammatory anti-apartheid song which translates into “Shoot the Boer” (Dubhula iBhunu) at a ANCYL rally. Are these the harmless ravings of an innocuous radical activist, or an ominous harbinger for South Africa’s future? Current President Jacob Zuma has previously referred to Malema as a future president.
Next year, the ANC will hold leadership elections, in which the next president of South Africa will likely emerge. . . Robert Mugabe turned the breadbasket of Africa into a dysfunctional, violent kleptocracy. If ANC moderates fail to stop Malema’s ascent, South Africa may never regain the optimism of 1995 and slip down the dangerous path Zimbabwe forged in 1987.