HE trouble with Julius Malema is that he's steeped in the politics of the ANC; blinkered, almost.
That may not necessarily be a bad thing, per se.
When talk gets cerebral, Malema, whose star in the oratory stakes is rising with each speaking engagement, is quick to say that he knows "nothing else but the ANC".
He leaves you in no doubt that he really listened in the umrabulo - political education - sessions he took part in. And clearly, there were many - if he's still not availing himself of them up to this day.
He gives the impression that his is a receptive mind that, had it been channeled towards school, could have done better in matric.
But what with Cosas, the political kindergarten that prepared him for his current position as ANC Youth League head, there was no time for scholarly pursuit.
Like the ill-fated Stompie Seipei, Malema found a home in the toyi-toyi and political sloganeering, a rite of passage that sucked them into the belly of the beast.
His knowledge of the ANC, especially the modalities of its youth wing, inspires clichés - he knows both like the back of his hand.
When he talks about the Freedom Charter, that all-important June 1955 document, described by late ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli as "line by line, the direct outcome of conditions which obtain - harsh, oppressive and unjust conditions", Malema morphs into a storyteller of hypnotic note. He tells of how the Charter was all-encompassing, attracting black, white, young, old "and even the police who did not object to its adoption".
The truth is, according to those who recorded events at about 3.30pm on June 26, with two sections of the Charter remaining to be discussed, the police - who up to then had been content to watch the proceedings - arrived in force. Armed with Sten guns, they formed a cordon around the field as 15 security policemen mounted the platform and told the crowd that they suspected that treason was being committed.
That little historical embellishment aside, there's no doubting that the Seshego-born lad knows nothing but the ANC.
When he says "the nationalisation of mines will happen", he's not experiencing a blonde moment. It is true when he adds "the Freedom Charter says that".
Those who take umbrage at these (reckless?) statements should perhaps re-school him and say the document isn't cast in stone. If they don't, many like Malema, married to the letter and spirit of the Charter and ANC-speak, will cause the top brass more embarrassment in the eyes of big business. Clause 3 of the Charter, almost the mantra of "child soldiers" like Seipei, Malema and Buti Manamela: The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth, calls for the nationalisation of the mines.
Speaking at the Atlas Studios in Auckland Park on Thursday during a one-man show organisers mis-termed a "debate" on nationalisation, Malema quoted from the deliberations of the Kliptown gathering and reminded his audience: "Julius was not there".
The ANC might yet live to regret teaching Malema well. He's well aware of the kingmaker role of the ANCYL, a tradition carried on from the 1940s generation of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and OR Tambo. It is this power of the Youth Leaguers that has imbued Malema's vocabulary with such words as "radical" and "militant", additions to his lexis he clearly cherishes. That the younger Mandela-Sisulu-Tambo triumvirate of ANCYL leaders was a thorn in the side of the old guard - disrupting meetings and nominating their preferred leaders - is the stuff of legend.
Under Malema's watch you can almost be certain he will ensure the youth formation will not be guilty of pussyfooting around issues.
He says anyone with ambitions for 2014 had better brush up on their diction and learn (how) to say the word "nationalisation". There won't be a more fitting celebration of the centenary of the ANC in 2012 than implementing Clause 3 of the people's charter, Malema says.
Unlike Mandela, who somersaulted a few times over nationalisation, Malema has no wish to appease captains of industry. He'd rather have an epitaph that says he led a radical youth wing.
When those like Tito Mboweni say mines won't be nationalised while the Charter remains unaltered, you wonder what informs their sagacity.
Writing in the letters pages of our sister paper The Times on Wednesday, reader Stephen Mashatola says: "Julius Malema is not all bad, he is just reminding us that if we are afraid to speak our minds on the issues of the day we might as well take our Constitution and shove it."
So, doesn't Malema say the things we often want to say, but are afraid to sound like students of woodwork?
You will only get a nice deployment depending on your answer.