D-Day for absent Julius Malema
Johannesburg - The African National Congress will announce on Thursday the verdict of a disciplinary hearing that could derail the political career of outspoken ANC Youth League Julius Malema
The ANC will hold a news conference at 10:00, but Malema will not attend proceedings while he tackles examinations - details of which are not forthcoming - in Polokwane.
The firebrand youth leader, who has been a leading advocate for the nationalisation of mines, has been charged with bringing the party into disrepute and with sowing division within party ranks.
Earlier this year, he said the ANCYL would send a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties and help bring about regime change.
Malema subsequently apologised for the remarks.
His co-accused, ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi are expected to be present.
"The ANCYL places it on record that we subject ourselves to the discipline and guidance of the ANC," the league said in a statement.
"The leadership of the ANCYL will only speak publicly about the disciplinary proceedings and outcomes after every little detail of the DC [disciplinary committee] has been concluded."
The Star newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, reported on Wednesday that the chairperson of the ANC's disciplinary panel, Derek Hanekom, had recommended Malema be suspended for a year.
Violence erupted in the Johannesburg CBD when Malema first appeared before the disciplinary committee, where youth league members threw bricks and stones at police and the media 'and burnt t-shirts with the face of President Zuma printed on them.
The disciplinary case is widely regarded as a showdown between Malema, 30, and President Jacob Zuma, whose path to re-election as head of the ANC could be blocked by Malema.
ANC insiders allege Malema is fronting a plot to oust Zuma and replace him with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Malema has unnerved investors with his calls for state ownership of mines and a seizure of white-owned farm land. He has also won legions of supporters among the poor black majority who regard him as a future leader.
If Malema were suspended for a year he could be back in his post as the ANC's Youth League President in time for a major ANC meeting in December 2012.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza indicated action could be taken against Malema.
"There are complications with the ANC constitution and the ANC Youth League constitution in terms of his standing as a leader of the youth league," Khoza said.
But comments from Motlanthe seemed to suggest that there was yet hope for Malema.
On Tuesday the deputy president said the ruling party only expelled members it believed were beyond rehabilitation.
"The approach of the ANC is that it abandons only the most incorrigible," Motlanthe told Parliament's Press Gallery Association.
"It has the confidence that it can correct its members."
Could be killed
Malema was found guilty of criticising Zuma by another ANC disciplinary hearing last year. He pleaded guilty to this charge.
The national disciplinary committee at the time said should Malema be found guilty of provoking serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organisation within the next two years, his membership of the ANC would be suspended.
Any penalty imposed on Malema will not automatically result in him being removed from ANC structures and the public arena.
He can appeal to the ANC's highest decision-making body, the national executive committee, headed by Zuma.
Zuma could fail in his bid for re-election as head of the ANC if Malema rallies support against him.
Zuma's foes have been courting Malema as they line up their bids for power.
Motlanthe and former youth league leader Fikile Mbalula have denied they are part of a plot. The ANC discourages succession debates outside party structures.
"I do not get involved in plots about anything. If there is something I want to say, I say it within the ANC," Mbalula told the New Age newspaper. "This is something I can be killed for because some people may believe these lies."
In what might be a sign of Malema's influence on Africa's largest economy, credit ratings agency Moody's lowered its outlook on South Africa.
It voiced concern that political pressure from black voters wanting greater economic redress for the ills of apartheid could erode the country's finances.
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