Who survives and who emerges victorious in Mangaung's ANC electoral conference in 2012 will be determined by what happens in the next few months.
The JSE and Union Buildings marches organised by ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema are the first test of strength. Malema has abandoned President Jacob Zuma as a result of a complex mix of factors, all to do with power wielded over tenders.
This has manifested itself in the tussle between Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, on the one hand, and the one between Zuma and both Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on the other.
Malema is leading the charge against the Zuma faction, testing its resolve and forcing it to fight outside its terrain of strength - which is the party bureaucracy. Malema is pushing for a street battle.
Should the Malema marches pull more than 20 000 people, this would buy him enough political currency and space for manoeuvring towards Mangaung and would also be used as bargaining muscle in his disciplinary hearings. A bad showing could be political suicide.
But it must also be remembered that Malema is in a position to rent a crowd. This doesn't mean he has consistent or organised support, as demonstrated by the poor showing at his disciplinary hearing. But it could indicate that he is able to attract unemployed young people who are bored and only too happy to be in Johannesburg and Pretoria on a free trip. Malema understands the growing anger of the black masses better than many.
He has moved into the vacuum that exists for a radical pro-black political voice or movement; he has fashioned himself as the warrior for the excluded and denigrated.
Increasingly, he has gone frontal in his attack on the government's failures. His hypocrisy is so brazen you can't but marvel at its nakedness. As recently as April this year, while canvassing votes for the ANC, he said: "No matter how unhappy you are, no matter how angry you are, you can't act against the ANC, because the ANC has never made a mistake."
Not only the poor have been bamboozled
It's not only the poor who have been bamboozled by Malema; many well-meaning black radicals who have fundamental problems with the ANC's 17-year rule have been seduced by his rhetoric. And many blacks are outraged by AfriForum's arrogance and consistent attacks on Malema. All these factors explain to some extent the support Malema may enjoy in the black community.