ANC Youth League president: It is Juju or no one

Julius Malema’s passionate supporters on the ANC Youth League’s national executive committee have vowed to stand by their man, even if he is found guilty and is suspended from the ANC. They told the Mail & Guardian that if that happened they would refuse to fill his position as president of the youth league.

But until then the committee plans to fight to save Malema’s political career, despite his failed appeal to overturn his convictions by the ANC’s disciplinary committee.

The M&G has learned that the league’s national executive committee plans to announce on Monday that no succession debate will take place in a post-Malema era. It wants to devise a comprehensive plan to approach the ANC national executive committee to find a political solution to the impasse.

Provinces such as the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga have publicly given their support for the leadership of the league under Malema and have suggested that if he is suspended he will remain president until the next congress, in 2014.

The youth league believes it is being targeted because it supports Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC head of campaigns Fikile Mbalula to replace President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe as president and secretary general, respectively, in Mangaung in December.

Last Monday the provincial secretary general of the youth league in Mpumalanga, Clarence Maseko, said the leadership of the league was elected unopposed and talk of who would succeed Malema if he was found guilty and suspended from the ANC was not on the table.

The Eastern Cape’s provincial secretary general, Mziwonke Ndabeni, said the succession debate was “premature” and the subject would not be discussed at the national executive committee meeting this weekend.

Malema’s supporters in the committee said his deputy, Ronald Lamola, would continue to run the affairs of the youth league with other national office bearers until the next congress.

They dismissed suggestions that treasurer general Pule Mabe was senior to and more experienced than the rest and should therefore be a shoo-in. “If he was senior and experienced, as people say, he would have been elected as the deputy president during our conference in June last year,” a committee member said.

The ANC’s disciplinary committee of appeals, chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, said last weekend that it had dismissed appeals by Malema and other officials to overturn their suspensions.

Ramaphosa, among others, dismissed the appellants’ arguments that the charges had been instituted to settle political scores.

Malema and his cohorts were given two weeks to prepare arguments in mitigation of their suspensions and will remain in their positions until the disciplinary process is completed.

Malema’s supporters told the M&G that they will build a strong case for a “political solution” as they prepare to take their fight to the ANC’s national executive committee. The league enjoys support in the committee from heavyweights such as Mbalula, ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, Tony Yengeni and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Last weekend the Eastern Cape youth league’s provincial executive committee said it had resolved to ask its national executive committee to intervene on Malema’s behalf.

A youth league lekgotla, to be held in Centurion, Pretoria, from Friday until Monday, will be addressed by, among others, Motlanthe, Mantashe, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and former youth league leader Rapu Molekane.

Plotting to keep Malema show on the road

National disciplinary committee of appeals
What does the ruling by the ANC’s disciplinary appeals committee mean for ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, his nemesis, President Jacob Zuma, Zuma’s deputy and would-be successor, Kgalema Motlanthe, crown prince Fikile Mbalula and the party’s Mangaung conference?

It is not over yet, but the ruling was a devastating blow for Malema.

It upheld two findings of guilt, but Malema is counting on a lenient sentence. The ANC however might argue for a harsher sentence on the basis of the two-year suspended sentence Malema received in 2010.

After the next sentencing another round of appeals could be lodged. Malema’s supporters are also expected to drag the process out for a few more months before it is finally taken to the ANC’s national executive committee and, later, to its elective congress in December.

Julius Malema
The general consensus is that Malema is facing a bleak future in politics, because the balance of forces remain tilted in Zuma’s favour ahead of the elective congress. Malema is counting on his provincial chairpersons to take his fight with Zuma to the provinces and assist him in dragging the matter to the finish.

If he loses the fight, say his supporters in the league, there are far more militant hotheads in the organisation who will continue to champion his radical policies. Among them are his deputy, Ronald Lamola, and the league’s secretary general, Sindiso Magaqa. Malema still enjoys the support of most of the leaders in provincial structures.

Jacob Zuma
The president has been silent on the matter and it is probably too early for Zuma to celebrate the downfall of the fiery youth leader.

Malema’s supporters believe Zuma should be more worried about the league itself, because he does not know its plan B: how it will campaign for his removal in provinces such as Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, North West, the Western Cape and the Free State.

The pro-Malema camp is also counting on the Democratic Alliance’s court challenge in the Supreme Court of Appeals against the National Prosecuting Authority, which discontinued Zuma’s prosecution for fraud and corruption related to the arms deal and the money he received from convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik.

Kgalema Motlanthe
There is broad consensus in the ANC that Motlanthe should be the next president of the party, be it in 2012 or later. The fall of Malema will not be a huge blow to Motlanthe’s ambitions to lead the party, now or in the future. Although the league claims to be campaigning for him, Motlanthe has not openly associated himself with its campaign.

Fikile Mbalula
Mbalula played a crucial role in the campaign to unseat former president Thabo Mbeki. The pro-Malema camp in the ANC wants Mbalula to replace the party’s secretary general and Zuma backer, Gwede Mantashe, in Mangaung. If Malema goes, Mbalula’s campaign to replace Mantashe will suffer a serious setback, but he will be hoping that other structures take up Malema’s battles.

National executive committee
If everything else fails the league hopes to take its case to the national executive committee for review. The committee is the ANC’s highest organ in the periods between national conferences. The committee has a number of Malema supporters, who believe he is being targeted for political reasons. However, the youth league might find it difficult to persuade all 99 members (including 18 ex-officio members) to support its cause, because some of them might fear risking a political future by openly supporting Malema. ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a role model for Malema, had to issue a statement to clarify Malema’s visit to her house after the disciplinary appeals committee ruling last Saturday in an effort to avoid perceptions that she was siding with him.

Mangaung conference
The youth league hopes to fight Malema’s cause until the elective congress, where it hopes the case against the youth league leaders will be dismissed and a “political solution” found. But this will depend on the balance of forces closer to the event in Mangaung, especially after ­leadership nominations are announced in October.—Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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