ANC Youth League ready to appeal Malema ruling

The African National Congress Youth League said on Thursday it had already found an argument to appeal against the suspensions of its leadership.

Not being able to present mitigating circumstances ahead of the suspensions would be a good enough ground for appeal, said secretary general Sindiso Maqaga.

“This is one of the most basic and primary rights which is afforded to any person who is charged in any forum. Even the most hardened of criminals enjoy this basic right,” he said in a statement.

“While the [youth league national executive committee] is still to consider the rulings, this procedural lapse alone is a good ground of appeal.”

The league had already formally registered its objections in this regard, Maqaga said.

The ANC national disciplinary committee announced the suspension of Malema and five other league leaders on Thursday after finding them guilty on a number of charges.

Maqaga said the organisation stood by its leadership and by its call for a transfer of wealth in South Africa.

“The [youth league] leadership and entire membership remain unshaken and resolute in its call for the eventual transfer of wealth from minority hands to the majority of our people,” he said.

“The [youth league] has never had any illusion that its radical call for “economic freedom in our lifetime” will be smooth and without hurdles.”

Maqaga said the league’s national executive committee would meet at the weekend to discuss the way forward.

Widespread reaction
Opposition political parties have lauded the ANC national disciplinary committee’s (NDC) ruling to suspend league president Julius Malema for five years.

The committee said on Thursday that Malema had damaged the standing of the ANC and South Africa’s international reputation.

The Inkatha Freedom Party youth brigade said the ruling vindicated its previous calls for action to be taken against Malema.

“We believe, however, that the decision to suspend Mr Malema for five years is not real action and a little too late,” it said.

The ANC leadership had stood idly by while Malema insulted IFP leader Mongosuthu Buthelezi, even threatening to invade Buthelezi’s home.

“They have stood idly by as Mr Malema contributed to the loss of confidence in the South Africa economy with his irresponsible, reckless and senseless calls for nationalisation,” the youth brigade said.

Fair punishment?
Time would tell whether the punishment handed out would fit the crime.

“We regret that a compulsory course on civility, good manners and economics 101 was not included,” it said.

African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said the ruling sent a strong message to the youth league that ill-discipline in any form would not be tolerated.

“We particularly welcome the ANC’s confirmation that discipline is ‘the foundation for any intended course of action’, that ‘ill-discipline is not a cure for frustration’ and that ‘ill-discipline in the guise of militancy and robust expression’ will not be permitted,” Meshoe said.

The Azanian People’s Organisation Youth (Azapoy) welcomed the suspension of both Malema and youth league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu [for three years] from the ANC.

“We view this as the best thing to have happened to South African politics of young people because the pair have been the worst thing to have ever graced the world of youth activism,” leader Amukelani Ngobeni said.

“Their dirty politicking has made young people lose confidence in young politicians and, as young activists ourselves, we were painted with the same brush.”

‘Better place’
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said South Africa was “a better place” for Malema’s removal from the political arena.

“Malema and Shivambu have without a doubt caused a lot of damage to South Africa internationally as well as nationally,” said Mulder.

“With his comments about nationalisation he frightened international investors away, while his racial views further marred relations in South Africa.”

Mulder said the NDC had put Malema in the “political fridge” for five years.

In practice, it meant that after this period had lapsed he would be too old to play any further role in ANC youth politics.

He would then have to make his mark in the larger political arena, Mulder said.

AfriForum said the ruling party must stand firm should Malema appeal.

“If Malema’s suspension is not overturned on appeal, he will no longer be a figure that must be taken seriously,” chief executive Kallie Kriel said in a statement.

Malema has vowed to appeal against the suspension. He conveyed this message to supporters after writing exams in Polokwane in Limpopo.

The controversial leader will remain on full pay until the appeals process is completed.

The ANC’s national disciplinary committee found Malema guilty of provoking divisions within the ruling party and of bringing the organisation into disrepute.

He was ordered to vacate his position following his suspension from the ANC.

Kriel said Malema had overestimated his support.

“Malema has been the biggest polarising factor in the country for the past two years and without him on the scene, it will be much easier to promote mutual recognition and respect between communities,” he said.

Analysts impressed
Analysts were impressed by the governing ANC’s “defining” move to axe Malema and senior members of his organisation.

“The ANC now have the opportunity to turn the clock back, to put the genie back in the bottle,” said political analyst Susan Booysen.

Economist Chris Hart said, “It looks like a very defining moment”.

Judith February, head of Idasa’s political monitoring unit, said most people had expected some “lightly, lightly” approach from the disciplinary committee.

“This sends a strong message around issues of discipline, obviously in the context of the larger democratic context of South Africa.”

Booysen said the disciplinary measures were “probably overdue”.

“From around 2005 that has been the way we do politics in South Africa,” she said.

“It was probably overdue but then it was also tolerated for such a long time.”

Booysen said the ruling also brought clarity to relations between the ANC and the youth league, and the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.

Political coherence
People with political aspirations would have to be careful, she said.

Hart saw the committee’s pronouncements as the first steps towards political coherence in the ruling party.

The youth league appeared to be behaving like an opposition party, making it look as though there was a level of political incoherence in the ANC.

The committee’s decision would ultimately be good for the ANC because it would get its coherence back, Hart said.

There had been a huge amount of uncertainty regarding nationalisation, with the debate driven by the league, said Hart who is chief strategist at Investment Solutions.

The rand firmed slightly at the time of the announcement but this probably had more to do with a possible resolution of the Italian financial crisis than the Malema effect.

Despite all the “political material”, said Hart, political utterances in South Africa seemed to be disconnected from the financial markets.

Investor confidence
They did, however, have effects in the long term on potential investors.

February said the violent protests in Johannesburg in August, when the disciplinary hearings started, would have made many people in the ANC think things had gone too far.

President Jacob Zuma would also be emboldened by the decision.

“The ANC occupies such an important space in our political life that it is an important message to send out that that kind of behaviour would not be tolerated.”

However, she cautioned against just focusing on an individual such as Malema.

“It is an important and serious step by the [disciplinary committee] but it doesn’t change the fact that there are divisions in the ANC ... a constant tussle between those who understand the constitutional project and a conservative right wing in the ANC who accumulate wealth,” February said.

“Julius Malema is one figure in a panoply of figures. We can’t look at an individual in isolation.”

The parties have 14 days to appeal the findings.

History of discipline
This is not Malema’s first time in front of the ANC’s disciplinary committee. In May last year, he was hauled over the coals for accusing Zuma of being worse than former president Thabo Mbeki for berating him in public.

After a bungled prosecution, Malema was eventually ordered to apologise to Zuma, to pay a R10 000 fine and was sent to a political school and to anger management classes.

The national disciplinary committee at the time said should Malema be found guilty of provoking serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organisation within the next two years, his ANC membership would be suspended.—Sapa, Staff reporter

For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema click here.

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