Malema kicks off fight to prevent his exile from ANC

Julius Malema’s bid to prevent his exile from the ANC is set to begin today, as the ruling party’s appeals committee hears verbal arguments for the overturning of the ANC Youth League president’s five-year suspension.

Malema and other senior ANCYL leaders were suspended in November last year, after an ANC disciplinary committee found Malema guilty of bringing the party into disrepute by describing the Botswana government as a puppet of the West and calling 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 and former president Thabo Mbeki.

The suspensions were announced after a drawn-out disciplinary process which saw large crowds of youth league members turn up at the hearing’s various venues in support of Malema. Such rallies are not expected at the appeal hearing, where lawyers for the suspended youth league leaders will present oral arguments to the ANC appeals committee chaired by party veteran Cyril Ramaphosa.

The lawyers submitted heads of argument to the appeal committee last week, on behalf of Malema, league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer-general Pule Mabe, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi.

Advocate Patrick Mtshaulana said that it would be put to the appeals committee that the league’s leaders had not been given a chance to argue in mitigation of their sentences, and that several members of the original disciplinary committee, including Deputy Science and Technology minister Derek Hanekom and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, ought to have recused themselves as they had publicly spoken out against the ANCYL’s positions on land reform and the nationalisation of mines before the hearing commenced.

Mtshaulana said the league’s advocates would further submit that the verdict and sanctions relied on an outdated section of the ANCYL constitution.

Should they lose, Malema and his executive could refer the matter to the ANC’s national executive committee, they could seek to have the elective conference in Mangaung review the suspensions, or could head to the courts.

Leadership feud
According to reports in the Sunday Times last week, rifts have appeared between the suspended youth league leaders, with a “central committee” led by Malema initiating a civil war of sorts, intended to sideline rivals Mabe and Mosenogi.

The newspaper said the rift became apparent last month, when Malema and other league leaders chose to attend the funeral of secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa’s grandmother instead of joining Mabe, Mosenogi and deputy president Ronald Lamola at the funeral of former league national executive committee member Vusi Mhlongo.

According to the report Malema’s so-called central committee is working to counter a revolt led by Mabe, whose name has been put forward to replace Malema should the youth league leader’s suspension not be overturned.

Mabe’s aspirations would reportedly be quashed by suspension from the league, on charges apparently related to his handling of league finances since he was elected as treasurer in 2008.

In the same report, Magaqa denied the existence of a “central committee”, and dismissed suggestions of divisions within the league leadership, saying there was no significance in Mabe and Mosenogi’s absence from recent Malema rallies: “They had other programmes.”—additional reporting by Sapa.

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