People still do not seem to get it. Julius Malema is not a passing annoyance, a wayward youth the African National Congress (ANC) disciplinary committee will address sooner or later. He is a radical. He speaks for a permanent extremist tendency in political life that has no clear agenda - save the overthrow of the existing system. Bad times are its closest ally , disorder is its time-honoured method.

The ANC fathered and fosters this uncontrollable issue: Mr Malema is the son of its arcane debate between a national democratic revolution and national socialist revolution. Whether that revolution is hard left or far right counts for little in the outcome.

Some enemies see Mr Malema as a potential Adolf Hitler. He declares himself a Leninist these days. Take your pick. Either way, he assured his violently inclined followers in Joburg yesterday that the y outh l eague speaks for the poorest of the poor. He wore the requisite Che Guevara beret - though, unlike Che, he appears more like the "robber barons" of unfettered US capitalism a century or so ago. Do you suppose those who support him care?

Behind the wheedling speeches, the self-pitying defiance in the face of possible martyrdom, Mr Malema is hardly the choice of "the poor". He is the product of SA's unstable party-state democracy, a hybrid that reduces contest in political life to elite in-fighting and integrity in public life to demagoguery.

Paul Whelan