Ronald Lamola is the man touted to take over the ANC Youth League’s presidency should Julius Malema’s expulsion stand. Lamola, who is one of Malema’s protegés, is empowered by the league’s constitution to succeed the incumbent.
A lawyer by profession, Lamola grew up on a farm in Mpumalanga as the son of a farmworker. He joined the ANC Youth League in 1996 at the age of 14. In 2004, after being enrolled as a student at the University of Venda, he was elected SRC president and later became provincial chairperson of the South African Students Congress in Limpopo. He served as the Young Communist League secretary of the Gert Sibande region between 2008 and 2009, before joining the youth league’s provincial executive committee.
Youth league members say Lamola is just as determined as Malema when it comes to the call for controversial policies like land expropriation without compensation and the nationalisation of mines. In some cases, Lamola is regarded as being more vociferous than Malema and will offer added impetus to the league’s “economic freedom in our lifetime” programme.
Lamola will advance the struggle much more aggressively than Malema and do so without abrasiveness. He’s cool, calm and collected, but challenge him and he’ll destroy you, according to a league member close to Lamola, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lamola is also seen as having less baggage than Malema so will be able to flex more political muscle in the call for sweeping policy reform.
“He doesn’t just talk for the sake of talking and hasn’t made enemies unnecessarily. When Ronald talks you know it is coming from a man that isn’t interested in business or tenders; it’s about the people,” said one source.
— Andisiwe Makinana