Speaking for the first time since his expulsion from the party last month, Malema told journalists in Johannesburg yesterday that he and his suspended aides would fight until they reclaimed their "rightful" positions in the ANC.
"I can tell you today, you can put it on the political archives when it happens, you can replay it. I am going to lead the ANC. I will lead this ANC, whatever it means by 'leading it'," he said.
He was flanked by suspended ANCYL secretary general Sindiso Magaqa and spokesman Floyd Shivambu, who nodded in agreement.
Malema said he had had a taste of being leader for a few months when he served as a provincial executive committee member in Limpopo.
The three youth leaders were sanctioned for violating the ANC's constitution, comments about overthrowing the government of Botswana and for comparing President Jacob Zuma unfavourably to former president Thabo Mbeki.
Reiterating that there was a political agenda in instituting the chargers that led to the ANC national disciplinary committee's decision to "purge" them, Malema said they "would fight and ultimately win this political battle, whatever it takes".
Malema said he was not worried and thought what was happening to him now was a test that would mould him into a better leader.
His eyes were fixed on the big prize - leading the ANC.
"It doesn't matter what time it takes, but from here on we are going straight to the ANC and we are going 200km per hour," he said.
Malema denied having anything against Zuma, whose leadership style he recently compared to that of a dictator. The same applied to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, he said.
"When we see them we greet them. We hug, we laugh because there is nothing personal. They are our leaders, but we've been subjected to an unfair process." - firstname.lastname@example.org