22. August 2011

Malema’s darkest hour as ANC acts

ANC YOUTH League president Julius Malema is facing the toughest challenge of his political life. The ruling party was mulling over his future and the Hawks last night confirmed that they were investigating a case of corruption and fraud against Malema.

This came as President Jacob Zuma clamped down on the succession debate that the league has been calling for since its last congress in June.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that the league will today convene a special national executive committee (NEC) meeting – its highest decision-making body between elective conferences – to hatch a fight-back plan against the charges that Malema and the league’s spokesman Floyd Shivambu are facing.

The duo will appear before the ruling party’s national disciplinary committee (NDC) at Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters, on August 30 and 31.

Malema was on Friday morning charged for violating the ANC constitution, including bringing the party into disrepute through his utterances and statements on Botswana and sowing divisions in its ranks.

It has emerged that in addition to charges relating to his Botswana statements, Malema will face further charges for calling white South Africans criminal and storming the meeting of the party’s top six officials two weeks ago.

Malema was also in the firing line for saying that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the AU were weak now that former president Thabo Mbeki had vacated office.

Sixteen months ago, the ANC found Malema guilty of saying Zuma was worse than Mbeki, who he said had never publicly rebuked the league in the manner Zuma did. His sentence was suspended for two years, meaning should he be found guilty this time, the ANC might have to suspend his membership or expel him from the party.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: “We can’t discuss the details, the merits and demerits of the case. We would prejudice the process,” he said.

The fiery young leader is the first league leader to be charged twice since the formation of the organisation in 1944. The ANC charged Malema and Shivambu last week after heavy lobbying from Zuma’s supporters for action to be taken against the youth leader.

An ANC NEC member who backed Zuma said the ANC could not continue to be held to ransom by Malema. “The ANC cannot be dragged into the mud, there is a limit to this,” the leader said. “They can meet, but the ANC will not be held to ransom by one person,” she said.

But the charges against Malema have been interpreted by several league leaders and the ANC national working committee leaders as an attempt to purge the two ahead of the ANC elective conference in 2012.

The leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said instead of charging Malema and Shivambu, the ANC should have charged the entire NEC of the youth league because these were views of an organisation, not theirs.

“What are they charging Julius for?” asked one youth league NEC member, adding “the charges do not shake us. He (Malema) was communicating a resolution of the ANCYL NEC. It was not his views. There were other ANC NEC members at that meeting and none of them said our view was incorrect. We are not going to sit back like we did the last time. We are not going to welcome these charges,” the member said. The member said a “sizeable grouping” within the ruling party would stand behind Malema.

The Hawks’ probe would focus on a number of companies linked to Malema and how money flowed into their accounts. Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela said there were a lot of companies involved that the Hawks needed to look into. “We can confirm that we are doing an investigation. We are looking into several companies linked to Malema,” he said.

Several ANC leaders attending this weekend’s special NEC meeting in Pretoria said Zuma told the gathering to desist from talking about succession, saying there was already a party decision barring members from engaging in such a debate. Although Zuma did not mention names, The Sunday Independent understands that the president was referring to the party in Gauteng, Limpopo and the youth league, which have all called on the opening of the succession debate.

On Friday night, the party’s NDC head Derek Hanekom refused to comment and referred all questions to the ANC. (Sunday Independent)

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