Time's up, Juju: Malema to learn his fate today
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The ANC national disciplinary committee (NDC) is expected to announce its decision on the fate of erstwhile youth league leader Julius Malema later today.
On Wednesday morning, after rumours began to circulate that Malema’s time was up, deputy minister for science and technology Derek Hanekom, who headed up the NDC, announced on Twitter that the committee was meeting today for final deliberations on the disciplinary measures to be taken against senior members of the ANC Youth League.
“We will announce our finding when we have concluded our work and informed the charged members and the SG [secretary general of the ANC].”
He later released a statement indicating that the decision would be made on Wednesday afternoon.
“Having said we will inform the public of our decision, we will be releasing a statement in the late afternoon today, February 29 2012, after informing all the parties involved and the organisation on the matter, as informed by our constitution,” he said.
According to the New Age newspaper, sources within the ANC say it is likely that Malema would be expelled.
The paper reported that its sources within the ruling party said the decision be communicated by press release, rather than through a media conference, an indication that the ANC is not prepared to engage in discussions on the matter and that Malema’s appeals for the ANC to discuss their differences with the youth league further have fallen on deaf ears.
Youth league braces for change
Members of the youth league have said that they have been preparing themselves for the eventuality that Malema may be forced to leave office.
League members who spoke with the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday said they understood that the NDC had made its final decision and that a meeting being held with the league’s leaders on Wednesday had been called to explain the terms of the verdict.
The youth league members said they expected that the NDC would uphold its sentences.
At the youth league’s lekgotla in early February the league agreed that Malema would remain its president, at least unofficially, until 2014, even if his suspension was upheld.
Earlier this month, the Sunday World tipped league deputy president Ronald Lamola to take over as acting ANC Youth League president. League members said, however, that Malema’s position would not be filled, the running of the organisation will be left to Lamola.
“We are prepared, mentally, for any outcome,” said a youth league member who asked not to be named.
“The old man [President Jacob Zuma] doesn’t want him in the conversation anymore,” he said. “We’ve long accepted it.”
Members of the youth league believe that the NDC will hasten to finalise the suspension because, until they do, Malema will continue to be active in South African politics.
On Tuesday, Malema upstaged North West premier Thandi Modise when he addressed striking mineworkers at the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenberg. The miners have been engaged in an illegal and at times violent strike over selective pay rises approved by mine owners for certain members of the workforce.
Clutches at straws
The NDC last year suspended Malema, league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu and secretary general Sindiso Magaqa for five years, three years and 18 months respectively. They were found guilty of sowing divisions within the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute.
Earlier this month lawyers for the youth league argued in migitation of their sentences, while party officials argued in aggravation.
The league initially took a hardline stance against the NDC’s decision to suspend its leadership, saying the ANC did not have the right to suspend them and that only the youth league itself had the power to remove its elected leaders.
Lamola said the mother body would have to “inform and convince” the league and its members that it had made the right decision.
But in the past few days Malema has softened his stance. At a meeting in Kliptown on the weekend, Malema asked for a meeting with the ANC to resolve their differences.
“We are asking for a meeting to resolve our problems with the ANC, the problems can be resolved. We will continue writing to them but we do not ask for any favours,” he said.
The ANC has declined the offer.
If the NDC’s decision goes against Malema, he could attempt to have the decision nullified by the ANC’s national executive committee. But this could prove challenging as it would require the league to secure support from more than half of the party’s main decision making body.
Failing this, the league could challenge the party’s decision in court. But the youth league has stated repeatedly that this is not an option that it would consider.
For months, political analysts have opined that Malema’s political future is in jeapardy and that his departure from the youth league is imminent.
Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, previously characterised the disciplinary process not as a tribunal or court case but rather as “a political party deciding whether it wants a particular group of people to belong to the party or not”.
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