If things work out as some think, Julius Malema will launch a new political party. This election season is going to be interesting, especially with the return of Malema. Just how interesting he will make it is unpredictable.
There is no active politician in the country who has a greater capacity than Malema to seize newspaper headlines. If he does decide to launch his party, we will all be dancing to his rhetoric. Of course some will dismiss him as nothing more than a clown that provides a lot of entertainment. Be wary of those you call clowns and fools; some once dismissed our president as such once upon a time. Those who choose to dismiss him do so at their own peril. But then again, those people are not his intended audience.
The people he will speak to are the forgotten, the neglected, those who are only acknowledged during election season. He will tell them all the things they want to hear and they will listen. He will remind them that this is the only time politicians go to see them. Don't forget that he was the first one to speak to the Lonmin mineworkers after the Marikana massacre. He will speak to the marginalised and they will see him as one of them. He even laid charges against the police for the shooting on that day. There can be no denying that he was there in their hour of need. The workers must feel like he is a brother. Malema, like them, is the discarded, the unwanted for demanding what is rightfully his: ownership of the economy in his own country.
He will be wary of people who remind him that he was Jacob Zuma's supporter when they were trying to get rid of Thabo Mbeki, yet now he is Zuma's biggest critic and Mbeki's biggest fan.
What Malema will do better than anyone else is address the heart. He won't speak to the electorate's rational mind. He will pull at the electorate's emotions. He will speak truths that cannot be denied. He will inflame. He will impassion. He will say all the right things that are wrong with the country. He will speak about the terrible and unacceptable condition that black people live in, while white capital continues to thrive. He will say the ANC leaders are the enablers because they stand to benefit.
Malema will point to Nkandla and throw insult upon insult at Zuma. He will call him the shower man and refer to his many wives and children.
He will use the Freedom Charter as evidence that the ANC has abandoned the people. His rallying cry from the charter will be none other than this section:
The people shall share in the country's wealth!
The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;
All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.
Why hasn't the wealth been restored to you, he will ask. Then he will go on to point out a number of rich South African politicians. He will speak out against corruption and make people angry.
He won't win though. He won't take as many votes from the ANC as he hopes. South Africans want to trust who they elect. I doubt they believe Malema would be able to run the country (if by some extremely unlikely chance he wins). He will undoubtedly appeal to the very desperate and angry. He will find plenty of people who are willing to listen to someone just as angry as they are.
But what makes Malema potentially dangerous for the ruling party is that he has nothing left to lose. As Ernest Hemingway wrote in Farewell to Arms: "But life isn't hard to manage when you've nothing to lose." And there are many people for whom Malema will provide a voice. People, just like Malema, who feel betrayed and let down by the ANC.