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Why Malema is taunting the ANC’s top brass

Is Julius Malema trying to antagonise the ANC into dissolving the league, a move which might be seen by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) as so drastic that it feels compelled to come to his aid? That theory is now doing the rounds within youth league circles, and is lent credence by a leading political analyst.

As the post-mitigation decision by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee (NDC) draws near, the Mail & Guardian understands that the ANC Youth League’s suspended leaders are trying to goad the ruling party’s top leadership, including President Jacob Zuma, into taking even more drastic action against them.

League president Julius Malema and his cohorts are determined to force the ANC’s top brass to try to dissolve the youth body, in the hopes of earning them sympathy from the rest of the party’s national executive committee, whom they will then lobby to reinstate the young lions’ suspended leadership.

The NEC has the power to overturn the suspensions, but the youth league fears it does not currently have enough support to secure this result.

It hopes that a decision to dissolve the league would paint the ANC’s “top six” leaders — including Zuma and secretary general Gwede Mantashe — as malicious and vindictive, and thereby encourage more NEC members to push for a “political solution” that favours Malema and his fellow youth league leaders.

This follows the league’s announcement last week that it would disregard any suspension handed to Malema or any other leaders by the ANC.

Malema was quoted by the SABC as calling for the “unbanning” of the league at an economic freedom rally in Bushbuckridge over the weekend.

“We are ready to confront every situation. We are fearless, we are more determined to fight for the economic freedom of our people and therefore any form of intimidation is not working,” Malema told the SABC.

Dissolving the ANC Youth League
The ANC’s top six have the power to dissolve the league as a structure of the ruling party.

However, such a decision has to be rubber-stamped by the ruling party’s national working committee and NEC, at which stage Malema hopes to turn the tables on Zuma.

According to political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi, the youth league is “forcing the issue out into the open in a bid to gauge support”.

“Sometimes in order to defeat your opponent you need to deepen the crisis. In other words, force your foe to act in a manner they don’t favour,” Matshiqi told the M&G.

Matshiqi said this would fit into the overall strategy of the league’s pursuit of a political solution to the standoff.

“This effectively moves the terms of engagement from an administrative place within the NDC to a political terrain within the ruling party. Whether this will solve their problems would depend on their support inside the ruling party,” Matshiqi said.

Support in doubt
But the youth leaguers have been in some doubt about how much support they currently enjoy within the NEC.

“If they were certain of NEC support they wouldn’t be employing these tactics,” Matshiqi said.

If this dissolution gambit does not work, the youth league’s last resort would be to push for a resolution to be passed at the national elective conference in Mangaung that nullifies all disciplinary processes, reinstating Malema and his cohorts.

Youth league spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy would not comment on the league’s survival strategy, citing “the ongoing disciplinary process”.

However, Moonsamy said the current leadership would continue “fulfilling their mandate” until instructed to do otherwise by their members.

For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema click here.

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Nickolaus Bauer
Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend.

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