November 10, 2011

ANC suspends youth leader Malema

Julius Malema has been suspended from the ANC for five years and, if his appeal fails, must vacate his position as the youth league’s president, the ruling party’s national disciplinary committee has ruled. Malema has two weeks to appeal the decision. He remains on full pay until the outcome of the appeal. Youth league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu was also suspended from the ruling party.

The youth league leader was found guilty of undermining party leadership and sowing division in party ranks for his criticism of ANC (and South Africa) president Jacob Zuma, as well as bringing the party into disrepute by recklessly denouncing the Botswanan government, in conflict with ANC policies. He was found not guilty on separate charges of inciting hatred and racism. Spokesperson Shivambu was suspended and found guilty on several charges for swearing at a journalist, and for accusing the ruling party of associating with imperialists. Derek Hanekom, chairperson of ANC’s national disciplinary committee, described Shivambu as defiant, arrogant and ill-disciplined. His membership of the ANCYL was suspended for three years and he had to vacate his position as spokesperson. Shivambu was guilty of prejudicing the reputation of the ANC for swearing at a journalist, said Hanekom.

Additionally, league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute by publicly condemning ANC national executive committee member and South Africa’s minister of public enterprises, Malusi Gigaba. For this he was sentenced to an 18-month suspension from the party, which in turn was suspended for three years. He was also ordered to make a public apology to Gigaba within five days.

Malema, Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer-general Pule Mabe, Magaqa and deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi were found guilty by the ANC’s national disciplinary hearing of ill-discipline and undermining ruling party leadership. The youth league leaders were found guilty and each handed a sentence of a two-year suspension from the party. The sentence itself, was in turn suspended for three years.

Hanekom insisted the disciplinary process had been properly initiated and followed. He underscored the importance of discipline within the party as “non-negotiable”, and said the committee had rejected arguments, put forward by witnesses at the hearing — including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela — that the youth league was autonomous and independent from the ANC, its constitution and its processes. Hanekom said the committee had also rejected suggestions that the disciplinary hearing might be used to settle political scores.

The five-year suspension of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's ANC membership does not mean he will be exiting the South Africa political stage. He would follow the ANC's internal processes in challenging the ruling, but his supporters who remained in the ANC Youth League said they would carry on with the programmes he was pursuing, regardless of the outcome of the appeals process. Believing that the prosecution of Malema and other league leaders was a move to secure the political future of President Jacob Zuma, Malema followers said they would challenge Zuma's following at ground level. A key Malema lobbyist, who asked to remain anonymous, conceded that the president was now on top and alleged that Zuma loyalists were "stealing" elections, such as the regional conferences in Mpumalanga.

Furthermore, Malema has lost an application for leave to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court against a hate speech ruling. In court papers, the court ruled it was not in the interests of justice for it to hear the application at this stage. Judge Collin Lamont in September ruled that the song dubul' ibhunu, which translate as "shoot the boer", constituted hate speech in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. He said it undermined the dignity of Afrikaners and was discriminatory and harmful. (Mail & Guardian)

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