The EFF’s claims that its Commander in Chief, Julius Malema, fired a pop-gun at the party’s fifth anniversary rally in the Eastern Cape last weekend, captured the party’s overall predicament well. "It was not a real gun," national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi insisted. "It was a simulation which collaborated with the fireworks … it was a toy." There can be no dispute that the EFF has exercised influence in South African politics. It has placed land reform and youth unemployment at the top of the political agenda. It has rejuvenated Parliament, replacing the decorum of the Mbeki era with gripping political spectacle. The EFF’s strategic dilemmas, however, were exposed by former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to take early retirement. First, there is the problem of Malema himself. A youth movement with a charismatic leader can be palatable to electors for a few years; but a youth movement of the middle-aged, with an erratic commander for life, is quite another matter. Who among them...

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