The similarities between Donald Trump and Jacob Zuma, both authoritarian populist leaders, are striking in that they come from differing political trajectories: respectively, from deep reactionary currents and from a radical national liberation movement. This contrast points to the diverse origins of contemporary forms of authoritarian populism. Scholars have rightly identified the important differences between the fascism of the Hitler and Mussolini era and the authoritarian populisms of the years after the Second World War, of which the apartheid-era National Party may be considered an example. However, the article suggests, the radicalization of authoritarian populism internationally is producing a potential slide to something approaching classical fascism. In the US, this danger is ominously threatening, whereas in South Africa the partial defeat of Jacob Zuma, reflecting real strengths in civil society and institutions, seems to have arrested this process.