Malema could be back, depending who in the ANC held power, Professor Susan Booysen said in reaction to the ANC National Disciplinary Committee of Appeals' decision to dismiss Malema's appeal against his expulsion.
"He is 40 years younger than the current ANC leadership. If he doesn't burn himself out, there is a good chance he will have a political future," she said.
Booysen said it appeared that, with Malema's current tax woes and problems with contractors, the odds were stacked against him.
The City Press newspaper reported on Sunday that Malema owes the SA Revenue Service (Sars) more than R10m - apparently relating to millions deposited into his Ratanang Family Trust.
The Sunday Independent reported that several of Malema's allies had been subpoenaed to appear before a secret judicial inquiry for suspected tax Sars would not comment, saying taxpayers' affairs were confidential.
However, earlier in April Beeld newspaper reported that Sars had approached Kwandisa Construction with queries about Malema's financial affairs.
According to the newspaper, building had been halted at Malema's new home in Sandton as he was allegedly unable to settle a debt of R400 000 owed to the building contractor at the end of March.
It had decided to transfer its workers to another project in Bedfordview.
Malema bought the property in September 2009 for R3.6m, then demolished it to make way for a new three-storey home with an underground parking garage.
On Thursday, his gardener Joseph Mabuza claimed he had not been paid for February and March, but later told Eyewitness News Malema had paid him and he considered the matter closed.
Strategy against Malema
"The timing of this does suggest that there is a strategy to take him out," said Booysen.
It is a claim Malema has made himself.
On Saturday, the SABC reported that he had issued a challenge to those within the ruling party who were trying to silence him.
"We know that undemocratic processes are those that are intolerant to different views, those that use state power to deal with those that disagree," Malema said.
He said these elements had unleashed all state institutions against him as they would do anything to silence him.
"If they want to arrest me, I've got an address, they are welcome to come and arrest me," he said.
Malema now had nothing to lose, said Booysen.
President Jacob Zuma had been in a similar position and Malema had learned from that experience, she said.
'Many different ANCs'
Booysen said she was working in the Eastern Cape at the moment and that it was becoming increasingly clear from her interviews there that there were "many different ANCs".
What this meant was that there were party members who were disillusioned with its leaders, but who still considered themselves to be ANC.
"Malema may be a non-member, but he will create his own ANC and have supporters around him."
He was popular and "called a spade a spade" which went against the party's existing culture, which did not publicly question the leadership or its decisions.