Legally, Julius Malema should vacate his position as ANC Youth League president — but instead he will be allowed to remain in the position for two more weeks, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.
He was speaking at a press briefing at Luthuli House in the Johannesburg city centre, following a meeting of the ruling party’s national executive committee.
On Saturday, the ANC’s national disciplinary committee (NDC) of appeals upheld the five-year suspension meted out to Malema in November.
Malema, league deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi and spokesperson Floyd Shivambu were suspended from the ANC last year, after the NDC found them guilty of sowing division within the ANC and of bringing the party into disrepute, partly as a result of comments regarding bringing about regime change in Botswana.
Malema now has the opportunity to offer evidence in mitigation of his sentence in the hope his suspension will be repealed or shortened. However, the ANC’s prosecutor may also argue for a heavier sentence.
The ANC NDC has to reconvene within the next fortnight to hear evidence from Malema and Shivambu, whose suspension was also upheld.
There was some confusion following the appeals ruling as to whether Malema would be immediately suspended or not, given a 2010 suspended sentence handed out to the firebrand leader, which legally should come into effect now that his latest suspension has been upheld.
But Mantashe said it was being delayed for political reasons, not legal ones.
“If we were legalists in dealing with it, we’d say the 2012 NDC suspension of the youth league president would kick in. We took a different view when we discussed this; this issue cannot be managed in such a way that looks desperate.
“We will wait two weeks for the appeal to be submitted and take that process to the end and then clarify things.”
Lamola, Mabe, Magaqa and Mosenogi all earned a reprieve as they were cleared of a charge of barging into a meeting of high-ranking ANC officials.
This means Lamola has a clear path to the league’s presidency, should Malema fail in his bid to quash his suspension.
According to reports in the Sunday Times, the league is planning to fight tooth and nail to assist Malema as he combats his suspension.
This could include opting for further delaying tactics when the NDC attempts to reconvene, taking up the matter with the ANC national executive committee and even mounting a legal challenge through the courts.
A league member said the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December would be the best opportunity to overturn the decision against Malema.
The briefing also included reports on various other ongoing ANC concerns, including the party’s centenary celebrations and the upcoming State of the Nation address. Mantashe said the party’s policy conference would take place on June 26 to 29 2012 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, while the party’s elective conference would take place from December 16 to 20 in Mangaung.
For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema view our special report.