ANC slams reports on plans to disband youth league

There was never a plan to disband the ANC Youth League, the ruling party said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said reports of a meeting held earlier this week by the ANC’s top leadership to discuss league president Julius Malema’s suspension and the disbanding of his executive were “untrue and misleading”.

“This is clear and total fabrication. These two matters did not even arise in the Tuesday meeting,” Mthembu said in a statement.

Mthembu said it was “totally misleading and mischievous” for the Star newspaper to suggest this in a report it carried on Thursday.

According to the newspaper, secretary general Gwede Mantashe called the ANC top six to an urgent meeting on Tuesday to persuade them to take harsher action against Malema.

This would have entailed the ANC’s top six announcing, at a media briefing on Tuesday, Malema’s suspension and the disbanding of his executive. However, ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa and deputy secretary general Thandi Modise disagreed on the suspension and disbanding, according to the Star.

A draft statement on the two issues had to be changed to pronounce on unity within the organisation instead.

‘Untruths and disinformation’
According to the report the national disciplinary committee (NDC), which announced Malema’s suspension on Wednesday, set to work after the top six met on Tuesday.

“A number of untruths and disinformation have been used to cast doubt on the briefing that the national officials held,” said Mthembu.

“The ANC is disappointed at the misleading article.”

Mthembu said the top six in fact met on Monday, after their special national executive committee meeting.
He said the suspension was only discussed by the ANC’s NDC.

“None of the national officials were part of that meeting as this would have undermined the independence of the NDC and would have given rise to prejudice on the matter.”

Mthembu warned against journalists allowing themselves to be used by “elements” with ulterior motives.

Contemplating legal action
Meanwhile, the embattled ANC Youth League president is contemplating taking legal action against the ANC after his party refused to withdraw his suspension.

In a letter sent to the ANC’s headquarters at Luthuli House and the NDC, Malema’s lawyers said if their client’s suspension was not lifted by 2pm on Thursday they would consider instituting legal action against the ANC with immediate effect.

They have argued the “banning order” against Malema was in violation of the ANC’s constitution, the rules of natural justice and the South African Constitution.

In terms of the conditions set by the NDC on Malema’s suspension, he would not be able to attend any ANC meeting, including the ANC national executive committee, the party’s national working committee and Limpopo’s provincial executive committee. Malema is also barred from addressing any meeting of the ANC or the youth league.

“The NDC decision to impose the four conditions upon comrade Malema is invalid because the NDC is not empowered by the ANC constitution to impose any conditions upon him. Rule 25.12 (e) provides that such conditions can only be imposed “in the case of an elected public representative”, which, as you know, comrade Malema is not”.

The youth league’s lawyers also said that, “failing your positive response within the said timelines, he [Malema] will immediately cease to observe those unlawful and unconstitutional conditions”.

Malema’s lawyers further argued “the NDC as a body cannot be the complainant, the instituting body and the adjudicating body all at the same time”.

Standing firm
But on Thursday afternoon the ANC stood its ground and said it would not withdraw the suspension.

Mthembu said the party would not lift the suspension against Malema.

Mthembu told the Mail & Guardian that the ANC had an attitude towards members who threatened legal action against the party, adding that they were prepared to go to war in defence of the suspension against Malema.

The NDC’s chairperson Derek Hanekom confirmed that the committee had, through its lawyer, responded to the letter sent to them by Malema’s lawyer on Wednesday but refused to comment further.

Meanwhile, Malema’s legal representatives have also written another letter to the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeals (NDCA) requesting a postponement of the hearing scheduled for April 12.

In the letter, which the M&G has seen, the lawyers pleaded with NDCA chairperson Cyril Ramphosa for more time to complete the heads of arguments, saying that the records from the NDC—which had expelled Malema from the party—had been delivered to them late; and that, because of the lawyers’ busy schedules, there was not enough time to prepare for the hearing.

All eyes on Malema
Ramaphosa told the M&G on Thursday that “the hearing was scheduled and takes place on April 12”.

He said after considering the complaints by Malema’s lawyers over the time constraints pertaining to the hearing, the committee had decided they would not oblige them with a postponement.

Malema is expected to attend the ANC Youth League’s national executive committee meeting on Monday.

Hanekom said the NDC would not get involved if he defied the order and participated in the meeting.

“We’ve done what we thought was appropriate. We can’t go beyond that,” he said. - Additional reporting by Sapa

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

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