And on his populist right, Zuma’s authority is being challenged by the pugnacious Julius Malema, the controversial leader of the ANC’s Youth League, who has repeatedly called for the ANC’s older generation to step aside for the new generation.
"The issue of generational mix will not be avoided,” Mr. Malema said in an interview with the Monitor. “We will make sure that this generational mix is done in all ANC structures.” Malema also said he will push for South Africa to nationalize mines, a proposal that would likely scare off foreign investment, and confiscate white-owned farms.
“We are going to use the NGC [National General Council] as a launch event for this radical economic transformation," said Malema. “We need to translate our wealth from the minority to the majority unashamedly and without pleasing Britain, the imperialist."
South Africa hasn’t been a British colony for 63 years. But anticolonialist rhetoric like Malema's is striking a chord here, as public-sector unions turn against a government they once supported and calls for nationalization are finding a large audience.
"It's going to be tough,” says Adam Habib, the deputy vice chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and a political analyst. “But what the meeting will achieve is to make a compromise on certain issues, otherwise I can't see the congress agreeing on anything the ANC Youth League, Cosatu [Congress of South African Trades Unions], and SACP [the South African Communist Party] would raise.”