WITH Julius Malema, the ANC is up to its neck in the quagmire of its own making.
The writing has always been on the wall that, in the firebrand youth leader, the proud movement of Luthuli, Tambo, Sisulu and Mandela was creating a monster they'd never be able to rein in. And true to form, as he runs amok like a bull in a china shop, the party's top brass can only watch helplessly from the sidelines.
They should have nipped the malady in the bud the minute Malema was carving a niche for himself as a kingmaker. But at the time, President Jacob Zuma was so engrossed in his legal trials and tribulations that he seemingly could not think straight. Any form of support, from whatever source, it would seem, was welcome for Zuma then.
When he returned triumphant from ousting Thabo Mbeki as ANC president at the last ANC conference in Polokwane, the die was cast.
When Malema declared he was prepared to die and "Kill for Zuma", the rot had already set in. Instead of whipping the younger man back into line and making him see the error of his ways, Zuma started hallucinating and seeing things - like a future leader of the ANC in Malema.
It is not for the ANC to admit Malema has become untouchable for even the blind can see that much. When he reminded some party leaders in a Northern Cape address that people soon forget (who had helped put them in power), he touched a raw nerve. They need him so much in 2012 they won't upset the only man who can deliver it to them on a silver platter.