ANC Youth League president Julius Malema faces a tough week as he readies himself for the next chapter as the drama surrounding his suspension from the ruling party continues.
Malema and his cohorts will be hoping that the ANC’s disciplinary appeals committee does not deliver a verdict on the matter this week, at least not before the ruling party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which is due to begin on Thursday.
The embattled youth leader was suspended from the ANC for five years in November after he was found guilty of undermining ANC leadership and sowing division in party ranks. He remains in his post, pending the outcome of the appeal process.
Additionally, party spokesperson Floyd Shivambu is facing a three-year sentence, while deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi were also handed suspended sentences.
Appeal under way
The youth league lodged an appeal soon after the ruling with the party’s appeals committee, which is headed by senior ANC member Cyril Ramaphosa.
The youth body believes the suspensions are part of a greater political conspiracy put in motion by ANC President Jacob Zuma and Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe.
The league claims the pair is trying to rid the ANC of Malema due to his controversial calls for nationalisation and land expropriation without compensation.
As such, the youth league has called for a “political solution” to the matter.
In the middle: Cyril
Should Ramaphosa deliver a verdict upholding the ruling, the suspensions would immediately come into effect.
The league’s leaders’ next move would then be an appeal to the NEC. In fact, they plan to get the matter on the agenda of the NEC meeting this weekend — hoping to pre-empt the appeal verdict.
This would involve writing to Mantashe, who as secretary general decides what makes it onto the programme.
This doesn’t bode well for the under-fire group, as for some time the youth body has enjoyed only the frostiest of relations with Mantashe.
Furthermore, their hopes of skipping ahead in the process may be misplaced. Speaking to the Mail & Guardian at the weekend, ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said that no applications to the NEC concerning the suspensions could be made until the appeal process was finalised.
Khoza could also not confirm how long it would take to have the matter placed on the NEC’s agenda as it was “unprecedented”.
“I am not too sure of the process from here as I can’t remember a disciplinary matter that was brought before the ANC’s NEC,” he said.
Ramaphosa has given no indication of a time frame for the ruling, merely saying the appeals committee would come to a verdict “at its own pace”.
When posed questions by the M&G, Shivambu said the youth league would not comment on the appeal at this stage.
However, a long standing league member in Gauteng, wishing to remain anonymous, confirmed to the M&G that the league was still angling to have the matter quashed.
“A political solution is the only way. This is all about getting Zuma a second term and the league simply won’t support that. They can’t throw stones at our leaders for leading a collective push for reform,” the source said.
Although the ANC has called on party members to remain silent on the disciplinary process, and has even publicly rebuked its treasurer Mathews Phosa for commenting on the matter, the furore has spilled into mainstream government.
Over the weekend, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Thandi Tobias-Pokolo lambasted Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba for “undermining party unity” by discussing the disciplinary matter in public.
‘Out of order’
“I believe comrades are out of order, in particular Malusi, because this is not the first time that he goes and rebukes structures of the organisation in the public. It can never be right,” Tobias-Pokolo was quoted as saying by the Sunday Times.
Tobias-Pokolo was referring to comments made by Gigaba in an exclusive M&G interview, where he ruled out the possibility of finding a political solution to the matter.
“It is out of order for any leader of the ANC to make comments about [disciplinary] cases which are still taking place, outside the ANC. It’s unnecessary opportunism,” Tobias-Pokolo added.
Commenting to the M&G, Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi conceded that “public spats” between ministers “are never a good thing” but downplayed the matter, saying it was “far removed” from government business.
“Cabinet should just deal with government matters, ANC matters must be dealt with by the ANC,” Manyi said.
Khoza would not comment on the Gigaba and Tobias-Pokolo face-off, saying only that remarking on disciplinary matters by party members was discouraged.
“We hope that everyone will just allow [the disciplinary process] to run its course as we don’t want it to become a media issue, where it will become easily distorted,” he said.
For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema view our special report.