ANC braces for Young Lions' roar ahead of Juju appeal
Political analysts say the ANC Youth League will “go for broke” in appealing the suspension of its top leadership from the ANC over the coming weeks, even though its chances of a successful appeal are slim.
“We’re going to see a rise in the scale of the rhetoric [the league] employs and this is going to put extra pressure on the ANC,” said political analyst Judith February.
Embattled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s political future hangs in the balance as the league seeks to have his five-year suspension from the ANC overturned. If the appeal fails, he will be asked to vacate his position as youth league president.
Lawyers for the league on Monday filed heads of argument in the appeal by Malema, league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi.
Oral arguments will be heard by the committee of appeals, chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, next Monday.
The league will try to convince Ramaphosa that they were not given a chance to argue in mitigation of their sentences and that disciplinary committee members, including chairperson Derek Hanekom and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, should have recused themselves, due to public disagreements with the youth league in the past.
February said she suspects Malema and those around him will seek a political solution to their suspension from the party—a “softer sanction” instead of suspension. “The outcome will give us an indication of the level of political influence they have in the broader ANC.”
She said that the disciplinary action concerning the youth league was a manifestation of the “messy year” 2012 is set to be in terms of internal ANC politics.
Meanwhile, Eusebius McKaiser, an associate at the Wits Centre for Ethics, said the youth league will survive without Malema and his leadership.
“As colourful as Julius Malema is, the youth league predates and will outlive Malema,” he said. “I don’t think that the youth league as a structure will have an existential crisis if Julius Malema gets neutralised.”
He said that if the appeal fails, the league would have to reinvent itself with new leaders, and build a good relationship with the larger ANC but added that “it will not be reduced to a desk at Luthuli House”.
It’s cold outside
On the other hand, Malema may not have the same resilience without the league. “Malema knows that without the youth league, it’s going to be very difficult to have direct influence and it’s going to cut a large part of his patronage network, so the stakes are very high,” said February.
McKaiser agreed, saying it was clear that Malema was trying to prepare for the “very real prospect” that he could lose his appeal and be ejected from the league.
“This would explain his attempt to get a provincial position in Limpopo,” he said. However, this would not necessarily translate into a political comeback as the local politics in Limpopo are complex and not related closely enough to the national scene.
In November last year, an ANC disciplinary committee found Malema guilty of bringing the party into disrepute after he called the Botswana government a puppet of the West and called for regime change in the country. He was also found guilty of undermining party leadership and sowing divisions within the party, after he drew negative comparisons between President Jacob Zuma with former president Thabo Mbeki.
At the time Derek Hanekom, deputy science and technology minister and chairperson of the ANC disciplinary committee, said “discipline is non-negotiable and it must be enforced”.
After the hearing, Malema vowed to soldier on saying, “Even if I am on the streets for five years, I will come back after five years and continue struggling for the economic emancipation of our people.”—additional reporting by Sapa.