Tense meeting preceded Juju postponement

2012-04-13 08:54

Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s appeal against his expulsion has been postponed, again, after what was understood to have been a tense meeting between him and members of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeal (NDCA) yesterday.

The committee said his case, which will now be considered only on the basis of written arguments, had to be wrapped up in a week’s time – by next Friday – after which its verdict would be made public.

In the meantime, Malema is set to ask the NDCA to review and lift his new suspension and gagging by the party’s national disciplinary committee.

His new suspension, which kicked in last Wednesday without any hearing taking place, means Malema can no longer speak at ANC or youth league meetings, or comment on ANC leaders.

It followed his remarks that the ANC had become a dictatorship under Zuma. This “review” hearing is likely to take place tomorrow, two sources close to the hearing said, but this still had to be confirmed by both sides.

Malema appeared before the NDCA in Luthuli House yesterday, where he asked for a postponement because his lawyers, advocates Dali Mpofu and Patric Mtshaulana, were not available.

He also said they did not have the full transcripts of previous hearings on which to base their appeal arguments.

It is understood that Mtshaulana was overseas, but it is unclear why Mpofu could not attend the hearing.

Mpofu could not be reached for comment last night.

It is also understood that Malema tried to argue that the hearing should be scrapped because it had gone on for longer than the six months allowed in the party’s constitution, but the NDCA turned down this request, saying an extension of this time had been granted by the committee earlier.

Malema appeared alongside league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu and league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, who are appealing their three-year suspension and suspended sentences respectively.

Malema was expelled by the national disciplinary committee of appeal in February for sowing division in the party, while Shivambu’s charge was bringing the party into disrepute by swearing at a journalist.

Magaqa was charged for saying the league would work with opposition parties in Botswana to bring about a regime change.

NDCA head Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement late yesterday the NDCA turned down Malema’s request for a postponement and insisted that the hearing continue without lawyers.

A source who attended the hearing said there was much tension between the two sides following this decision.

Ramaphosa said Malema then submitted a request to introduce a new legal representative to argue his case, and the request was granted “on the condition that the new representative be available within an hour”.

Malema then called advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who appeared for him and his fellow leaders. Sikhakhane managed to convince the NDCA to continue the hearing on written submissions only, and it was agreed that Malema’s lawyers would submit written heads of argument by Wednesday.

The ANC will then submit their written reply next Friday, and the appeal committee will make a decision based on these submissions.

“Once a decision is taken, a public announcement will be made in line with the directives of the ANC constitution,” Ramaphosa said.

Changing the hearing to a written one means that Malema can no longer request further postponements because of the unavailability of his lawyers.

Sikhakhane last night said he could not comment.

Sikhakhane has acted for the ANC and Malema before, among others in the case brought by AfriForum against Malema’s singing of the song “shoot the boer”.

The ANC is pushing to get rid of lawyers in disciplinary hearings because these could “make it extra-ordinarily difficult to bring errant members into line”, the party said in its draft policy discussion document on organisational renewal.

It also said lawyers could mean that “those with resources can get away with blatant transgressions and be above the organisation”. The documents are set to be discussed and decided on at the party’s policy conference in June.

Meanwhile youth league deputy president Ronald Lamola told a meeting in the Eastern Cape yesterday that the league had convinced Malema not to take the party to court, should he expulsion stand.

Lamola said the league would fight his sanction in the party’s policy conference and ultimately in the national conference in Mangaung in December.

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