ANC Youth League not 'friends' with Malema gang
"The Friends of the Youth League are not our friends," deputy league president Ronald Lamola told reporters at Luthuli house following the youth body's latest national executive committee (NEC) meeting.
"We, as the the league, are not connected to them in any way and cannot be held accountable for their actions," Lamola said.
Last week Malema transformed a memorial held for the 34 miners shot dead at the hands of police on August 16 into a political rally decrying government's role in the tragedy.
Malema claimed the service had been paid for by the Friends of the Youth League and used the platform at the service to call for President Jacob Zuma's resignation.
His utterances resulted in several government ministers fleeing the memorial after workers at the mine became boisterous and began shouting anti-government slogans.
This followed his laying of murder charges against the government and police earlier in the week in connection with the deaths at the mine.
The Friends of the Youth League was formed shortly after Malema's expulsion from the ruling party was ratified in late April after being found guilty in November last year of sowing divisions within the ANC.
It is still unclear under what ambit the new formation is operating and to what end they were originally formed.
A team of lawyers
Malema claims the Friends of the Youth League have assembled a team of lawyers, who are currently fighting for the release of over 200 arrested miners awaiting trial on charges of public violence, following the shooting.
"If there was an attempt by anyone at Marikana – be it Malema or someone else – to undermine the unity of the ANC, then the youth league condemns such behaviour," league NEC member Abner Mosase said.
The youth league claims Malema is and has been acting in his personal capacity since his expulsion.
"As he speaks, he speaks for himself. We will listen to what he's saying in as much as we would listen to any individual South African's views," league spokesperson Khusela Sangoni Khawe explained.
But, even though the league is distancing itself from what is essentially a Malema-run formation, the young lions are still calling for him to be reinstated in the ruling party and recognise him as the body's true president.
"We believe he is coming back and we will be taking up his case at the Mangaung elective conference," Lamola said.
Malema and the youth league have claimed the controversial leader will be readmitted to the ANC after delegates at the Mangaung elective conference in December vote to have his disciplinary charges set aside.
No way to return
However, it is unclear if the ANC's constitution will allow for such a move and secretary general Gwede Mantashe has previously claimed there is no way for Malema to return.
The ANC Youth League also used the press conference to call for wide scale leadership changes in the ruling party.
"We have resolved that the current leadership of the ANC must change so we can move forward," Lamola said.
The league said it would reveal its preferred candidates for ANC leaders when nominations open in October..