The ANC Youth League is welcome to appeal the sanctions handed down to their leaders, but the ANC believes it’s doubtful it will make much of a difference.
“Our view as the ANC is that there was nothing untoward with the national disciplinary committee [NDC], there were charges put on the table and there were clear arguments why they were instituted,” ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza told the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday afternoon.
At a press conference, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema responds to the ANC’s national disciplinary committee’s rulings. He emphasised that he, and the youth league, remain unshaken and would continue to fight for economic freedom, while retaining their membership and loyalty to the ANC.
“If they feel the sanction does not fit the action, that is when the appeal process kicks in — and they are welcome to it. The actual policies relating to the ANC’s disciplinary code were identified and the youth league did not dispute that they said some of those things (they were charged for). They did acknowledge those charges were based on what they had done,” said Khoza.
At a press briefing at Luthuli House on Wednesday morning, the league’s president, Julius Malema, and top brass officially announced their intention to appeal the suspensions handed down to them by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee.
“We have formally decided to appeal these findings of the NDC. We can assure all ANCYL supporters they’ll be judged as unfounded,” Malema said.
Malema received a five-year suspension for bringing the party into disrepute following comments he made about bringing regime change in Botswana, as well as sowing division within the ANC after comparing the leadership styles of Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.
Youth league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa faces an 18-month suspension for derogatory comments he made about Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.
The league’s spokesperson Floyd Shivambu was served with a three-year suspension also for bringing the party into disrepute after swearing at a journalist as well as for comments made relating to regime change in Botswana.
The remaining league leadership, including deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer-general Pule Mabe and deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogoi have all been suspended for two years for disrupting a top-level ANC meeting — an action for which Malema, Magaqa and Shivambu also received suspended sentences.
Targeting the league
The youth league’s main argument in challenging their leader’s punishment was their assertion that the charges were politically motivated and the NDC was had arrived at a guilty verdict before the hearing had begun.
“There was a clear directive from the ANC to persecute the youth league at all costs. [NDC chairperson] Derek Hanekom’s dismissive approach to everything the ANC Youth League said shows he had a different agenda to implementing the ANC constitution,” Malema said.
But the ANC believes that argument holds no water.
“Our view as the ANC is that there was nothing untoward with the NDC; there were charges put on the table and there were clear arguments why they were instituted — there is no agenda whatsoever. They defended themselves after they were alerted to what charges they were facing. So once you subject yourself to that process, bring witnesses and make no pronouncement on an alleged agenda.” said Khoza.
Youth league subject to ANC oversight
Attempts by Malema and other league leaders to have the NDC’s ruling and resulting penalties quashed within youth league structures also appear likely to fail.
At the press conference the youth league leaders said their organisation was not beholden to ANC disciplinary decisions, according to an amendment to the league’s constitution that was passed at its recent national conference, held in June.
“The ruling was clear: Constitutionally, the officials had the power to charge the ANC Youth League, because it is clearly stated that they cannot adopt policies that contradict the ANC. In the event that they do, it is the ANC who must hold them accountable,” Khoza said.
The ANC has also poured cold water on the idea of a “political solution” to the stand-off with the youth league, after the latter said that the penalties imposed upon them related to “political and organisational matters”.
“If a political solution could have been found there would have been no need for a disciplinary hearing. The violations were serious as determined by the sanction and we view them in a serious light,” said Khoza.
For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema click here.