If President Jacob Zuma holds the title as South Africa's ultimate political survivor, the first runner-up has to be Sello Julius Malema. Barely five years ago his political career seemed to be up in smoke — thanks to his expulsion from the ruling party and from its youth league, of which he was once the powerful president. His businesses had gone under, too, with his three taxi cabs taken off the road by authorities, and his cabbage and tomato farm confiscated by the state amid claims that it was obtained from the proceeds of corruption. The Seshego-raised self-styled spokesman of the poor had also seen the taxman attach his multimillion-rand mansion in Sandown, a Sandton suburb that is the epicentre of what he and others call white monopoly capital. Gone too was his palatial house in Flora Park, a Polokwane suburb not far from a neighbourhood locals call Tender Park due to its popularity with those who have made millions doing business with the provincial government. Yet today, he...

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