ANC out to discredit youth leaders: Malema
Johannesburg - The ANC was out to discredit youth league leaders during their recent disciplinary hearing, league president Julius Malema said on Wednesday.
"Even after the public communications of the outcome, members... continued to leak misleading information with a clear purpose and intention to discredit witnesses who came to testify for the leadership," Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.
"Already on Monday... the African National Congress issued a statement claiming that 'the process as well as the outcome of the recent disciplinary hearing enjoys the respect and acceptance by all leaders of the ANC and members'."
Malema said this compromised members of the national disciplinary committee of appeal, who were leaders of the ANC and would preside over the appeal process.
Malema, league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi were sanctioned by the national disciplinary committee (NDC) last Thursday.
ANCYL rejects verdict
Malema was given a five-year suspension and told to vacate his position as president and Shivambu was suspended for three years and also told to vacate.
The other four leaders all had their youth league membership suspended for two years. This sanction was suspended for three years.
The ANC Youth League "totally" disagreed with and rejected the outcome of the disciplinary hearings and would appeal against the convictions.
The decision to suspend ANCYL leaders was taken before the disciplinary hearings started, charged Malema.
"There were always evident signs that a decision to suspend the leadership of the ANCYL has long been taken by the NDC," he said.
"It is evident from the utterances of the secretary general [Gwede Mantashe] that the decision to convict and sanction was taken and agitated... in all his statements, [he] made such intentions very clear."
Mantashe had said the ANCYL had "crossed a line" before the disciplinary hearing started.
"Saying someone crossed a line is a verdict, not a complaint that has to be taken through a fair process," said Malema.
He said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu had made a statement, on behalf of the party, that the ANC could not harbour the leaders of the ANCYL.
"This statement was a clear indication of a determination on the part of some leaders of the ANC to get rid of the leadership... before due process could be followed."
The NDC was convened "merely" to give the conviction legitimacy.
Malema said it was evident that NDC chairperson Derek Hanekom had a political agenda.
He publicly said the youth league's policy on expropriation of land without compensation would not happen as long as he was in the ANC.
Settling a political score
Malema said Hanekom failed to control his temper and had outbursts during the hearings, interrupting witnesses and undermining the integrity of senior ANC leaders.
For this reason he should have recused himself, said Malema.
The ANCYL asked Susan Shabangu and Colins Chabane to recuse themselves from the hearings, but their request was denied.
The disciplinary hearings had been used to settle a political score, said Malema.
"The possibility that these members used the NDC to settle political scores and suppress dissent is very high," he said.
"Some of the NDC members did not attend the actual presentations of closing arguments, yet partook in the process to give verdict and sanctions to the leadership of the ANCYL."
There was suspicion and concern over the legitimacy of the hearings because the ANCYL leaders were not given the opportunity to present mitigating circumstances ahead of the suspensions.
Resigning not an option
"This is the most basic and fundamental right that cannot be denied to any person," said Malema.
"We call on all those who love democracy and are not fearful of dictatorship to support, in principle, the ANCYL’s petition to be afforded the right to mitigation before such harsh punishment can ever be implemented."
When asked if he would resign for the good of the organisation, Malema said he would not.
"The disciplinary hearings has taken time away from youth league programmes... [but] resigning is not an option, I must be fired," he said.
Malema said if he was still suspended at the end of the appeal process, he would return in five years’ time. He also said he would still attend the ANC's centenary celebrations.
"I'm not a suspended supporter [of the ANC], I'm a suspended member," he said.
"I have nothing that the ANC can take away from me."
Malema said this was the most crucial time to defend the ANCYL.
"Our struggle will never be undermined, victory is certain. Let the enemy celebrate, the celebration will be short lived," he said.