Malema not out in cold — yet

2012-02-06 00:00

IT was business as usual for Julius Malema yesterday as the ANC stressed it was in no hurry to strip him of his membership in line with his 2010 suspended sentence.

A day after he lost his appeal against his conviction for sowing division and bringing the ANC into disrepute, the youth league leader attended the party’s national executive committee meeting in Irene.

He hammed it up for television cameras as he drove himself to the venue, with the passenger window wound down and gospel music blaring.

After two days of confusion about whether Malema’s earlier suspended sentence would kick in today, ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu tried to set the record straight, telling the SABC that Malema had a reprieve.

This after the national disciplinary committee of appeal (NDCA) chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, muddied the waters by upholding Malema’s conviction while sending the case back to the national disciplinary committee for argument in mitigation or aggravation of sentence, within 14 days.

The move stunned some ANC members who saw this as a departure from the party’s official processes, with a NEC member telling The Witness last night: “Cyril may have written the South African Constitution, but he can’t interpret the ANC constitution.”

Mthembu said Malema’s suspended sentence of two years would not kick in before the youth leader had a “chance to go and mitigate”.

“… I think the leadership has decided that there is no particular hurry. Why don’t we allow all these matters to be held simultaneously?”

This put paid to the view that the ANC’s top brass would formally notify Malema of his suspension today and that he would have to vacate his office as youth league president immediately.

In Malema’s home province of Limpopo the ANC said he remained a member of the provincial executive committee pending a final decision.

ANCYL spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy said Malema remained ANCYL president until the NDC disciplinary process was completed.

The ANCYL NEC is expected to meet on Wednesday ahead of the league’s lekgotla later in the week.

Malema’s lawyer, Dali Mpofu, said he was awaiting the outcome of the league’s NEC meeting for further instruction.

“Right now we are preparing for the NDC mitigation of sentence hearing and that’s all I am prepared to say at the moment.”

An opponent of Malema in the ANCYL NEC said Malema’s detractors wanted to force the NEC meeting to discuss claims that Malema and his supporters had fabricated amendments to the league’s constitution.

It was amended to state that “a person who has been found guilty by an ANC disciplinary proceeding resulting in … suspension, temporary forfeiture of membership rights or expulsion … shall be subjected to the internal inquiry by the corresponding disciplinary structures of the ANCYL”.

Malema’s opponents would also put it to the meeting that no work had been done since Malema’s disciplinary proceedings.

“We were not elected by our branches to the NEC to worry about individuals’ problems but to advance the needs of the youth. Personally I will not support Malema and there are other NEC members who felt the same as I did.”

With Malema’s star waning, there is also renewed speculation about who will succeed him. Ronald Lamola, the league’s deputy, is likely to act as president until a special ANCYL congress can be held.

It is also likely that key allies will remain in top league posts.

Weekend media reports suggested that ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, who is from KZN, is willing to apologise to Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to avoid an 18-month suspension.

Meanwhile, the SA Communist Party secretary in KZN, Themba Mthembu, claimed there were others behind Malema’s ill-discipline and said the ANC should bring the real culprits to book.

Pundits are divided about Malema’s political future.

Political analyst Nic Borain told Reuters: “Julius Malema will be back. He has political skills and instincts second to none. He has a long career ahead of him.”

The Ingabadi Group’s Nhlanhla Mtaka said the decision would no doubt influence allegiances within the ANC in favour of President Jacob Zuma.

“People will begin to review their positions … If they did not know that Malema no longer had power, now they know and they will … ensure that they are not compromised politically …”

 

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