Young Lions defy us at their peril, warns ANC

The ANC Youth League is considering strident action in defence of its beleaguered leaders, but the ruling party will not take a revolt lying down.

The ANC Youth League will face an uphill battle in combating charges against its president Julius Malema, according to party insiders on Monday.

“I don’t see them revolting en masse against their mother body, as this is against the party’s code of ethics and carries with it serious consequences,” a senior ANC member told the Mail & Guardian on condition of anonymity.

The comments come after the youth body held a special meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) over the weekend to plot a way to fight the charges laid against its leaders.

Malema, along with his infamously coarse spokesperson Floyd Shivambu were charged with misconduct last Friday, following comments made by the league on working towards regime change in Botswana.

“They must remember there is no youth league without the ANC, and learn to respect its processes,” the source warned. This was the prevailing attitude of the ruling party’s leadership, he said.

Judgment Day
Malema and Shivambu are due to appear before an ANC disciplinary committee headed up by the deputy minister of science and technology, Derek Hanekom, on August 30 and 31 respectively.

If found guilty, Malema could be suspended from the party for a period of up to five years, as he already has an 18-month suspended sentence against him, following a previous disciplinary hearing conviction.

As part of his conviction in April 2010, Malema was also forced to publicly apologise to President Jacob Zuma after pleading guilty to a charge of criticising the president publicly—one of several charges laid against the youth leader.

A disciplinary inquiry is not the only problem facing Malema as Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and the Hawks both announced parallel investigations into his business interests following news of him being charged.

Political Solution
ANC Youth League spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy told the Mail & Guardian that the league’s NEC decided to push for a “political solution” to the situation, in the hope that charges against its leaders might be dropped.

“We want to have that engagement with them, so we would have the opportunity to move forward on this issue. The issues being dealt with are political in nature and we feel a solution could be found to them,” Moonsamy said.

Moonsamy also implied that the statements on Botswana were made as part of a collective and in line with implementing policy decisions made at the league’s 24th national congress held in Midrand in June.

“If our constituency gives us a mandate we can’t deviate from that mandate, and that remains the focus as we move forward,” she said.
‘We will defend him to the end’
Ordinary youth league members have declared their support for Malema and the league’s leadership, claiming they are being politically targeted ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference in 2012.

“This is politically motivated—they could have charged him a long time ago. Just 18 months away from Mangaung they are trying to silence him and declaring a war against the young people of this country by doing so,” another youth league member, who also asked not to be named, told the M&G.

The source also confirmed rumours the league was considering marching on ANC headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg should Malema face harsh action.

“For now, we won’t be marching—but, depending on the outcome of this disciplinary committee, we won’t hesitate to do so in support of our president,” the source added.

The noose tightens
ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, who represented Malema at his April 2010 hearing, has remained tight-lipped on the possibility of doing so again, as the ANC’s top leadership present a united front on the issue.

“[Malema’s] protection by senior leaders it would seem is fading and the impression is being created that the noose is now tightening; the chickens are coming home to roost,” Professor Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg told the M&G.

At this stage it is unclear who will represent Malema at the hearing, with Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula being touted as likely candidates.

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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