Julius Malema has been stripped of his powers as ANC Youth League president and will have no role to play in the run-up to the ruling party’s national conference, where he had hoped to oust South Africa’s unpopular President, Jacob Zuma.
Yesterday, the ANC’s disciplinary appeal committee upheld a decision against Malema handed down in October 2011 – although it seemed to give him hope by saying that he could still argue in mitigation of sentence.
But celebrations in the Malema camp were cut short when it emerged that he was suspended as of yesterday due to an earlier suspension handed down in 2010.
“The fact that this hearing upheld the suspension means that his delayed suspension from 2010 kicks in now,” a senior ANC official confirmed.
Despite this, youth league spokesman Floyd Shivambu remained defiant, insisting that Malema was still an active ANC member and that he would attend a national executive committee (NEC) meeting today.
“He’s a member of the NEC of the ANC by virtue of him being a president of the ANC Youth League,” he said.
Yesterday Cyril Ramaphosa, who is chairman of the ANC’s disciplinary appeals body, said Malema’s appeal on two charges of ill-discipline and sowing divisions had been rejected.
The appeals body found Malema, his secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and spokesman Shivambu guilty of ill-discipline, bringing the party into disrepute and sowing division within the party. Three other youth league leaders, deputy president Ronald Lamola, deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer Pule Mabe were thrown a lifeline when Ramaphosa’s committee overturned their sentence for “barging” into a meeting of ANC officials.
The “barging” incident prompted an angry retort from Zuma at the time. He told them: “Who do you think you are? You think you run this country.”
The appeals body found that: “The actions of the appellants could not be described as deliberate disruption or barging as described by the respondent … the appeal succeeds.”
But that was to be the league’s only successful appeal. The appeals committee dismissed other arguments advanced by the youth league as “ridiculous”, “absurd” and having “no foundation”.
The league had argued that ANC national officials, who include Zuma, his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, his deputy Thandi Modise and treasurer Mathews Phosa, did not have the constitutional powers to charge the league. The committee found this argument to be based on the league’s “misreading” of the ANC constitution.
While upholding the decision against Malema, Shivambu and Magaqa, the committee decided that “for the sake of justice”, their cases should be sent back to the disciplinary committee to allow them to argue in mitigation of their sentences.
The disciplinary committee – headed by Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom – did not grant the league time to argue in mitigation of sentences.
The committee said the ANC would be allowed to argue in aggravation of the sentences – which could mean Malema and other Youth League members could end up with more severe punishments.
Unlike Malema, the other two, Shivambu and Magaqa, remain in their positions until the process of mitigation of sentences has been concluded.
Before addressing the media, Ramaphosa presented the findings to Mantashe at the party’s NEC meeting in Irene, Tshwane. He then met the league’s officials at Luthuli House.
After receiving the decision, Malema and other Youth League members headed for a meeting with at the home of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela he was accompanied by other senior ANC members which included his friend and SABC board member Clifford Motsepe,, Magaqa and Shivambu. They were later joined by his lawyer, Dali Mpofu.
According to reports the youth league leader vowed to “fight to the bitter end” against the suspension.
Outside the house, a group of league supporters arrived wearing T-shirts with the words “Guilty or not guilty, nationalisation is the way forward”.