New Malemas will come - SAIRR
Johannesburg - It would be a mistake to see the suspension of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema as the end of political radicalism, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Thursday.
"Inevitably, if the country is not able to sustain significantly higher levels of economic growth, new Malemas will come to the fore either inside or outside the ANC," spokesperson Catherine Schulze said.
"A country with South Africa's inequalities will always be a breeding ground for political radicalism."
The institute believed the ruling against Malema was "unusually harsh".
"[It] was probably the only mechanism that the ANC leadership had at their disposal to halt his political ascendancy," she said.
"In the absence of such iron-fisted action, it was plausible that Mr Malema might have led an overthrow of the current senior leadership of the party which would in turn have led to fundamental policy changes for South Africa."
Schulze said the ANC had been complacent in the pre-Malema era and ignored the rising youth crisis in the country.
"It is possible, that with Mr Malema out of the way, the party may again fall into the same complacency."
The ANC's national disciplinary committee found Malema guilty of provoking divisions within the ruling party and of bringing the organisation into disrepute.
He was suspended for five years and ordered to vacate his leadership position.
The institute believed it was socio-economic circumstances and inequalities that allowed Malema to become "such a force" in South Africa's political scene.
He had been "useful" in ensuring a national focus on youth poverty and unemployment, said Schulze.
"While the policy solutions he proposed were unworkable, he was one of the few ANC leaders to identify that South Africa's youth were an under-represented political constituency."