Malema's new rule book
Thanduxolo Jika and Carien du Plessis, City Press
Johannesburg - ANC Youth League leaders have charged that Julius Malema and his supporters have unilaterally - and illegally - rewritten the organisation’s constitution to try to save their suspended president’s skin.
At the heart of the row is a clause in the league’s constitution that Malema this week cited at his fight-back press conference.
Malema was suspended from the ANC for five years last week. He is appealing his suspension.
On Tuesday he claimed that the ANC had relied on an “old” youth league constitution to suspend him. According to Malema, the “new” constitution required that the league’s own disciplinary processes review any sanction on a league member handed down by the ANC.
This is a knockout argument for Malema. If it succeeds, the youth league could ultimately decide his fate.
Malema claims that the constitution was amended at the league’s national congress in June.
» But 12 youth league leaders from four provinces who spoke to City Press deny that the amendment was even discussed at the gathering, much less voted on.
» Malema’s own lawyers have demanded proof from him that the amendment was made legally before using it in his appeal.
» Senior ANC leaders are also questioning the legality of the amendment and plan to interrogate its veracity.
According to the league’s constitution, proposed amendments should be submitted to congress "and can only be passed by a two-thirds majority vote".
This raises the possibility that the youth league’s constitution was illegally changed after the June congress and before last week’s press conference. But Malema on Saturday insisted that the league's rule book was changed legally.
He said the changes were passed after the congress accepted a report by the commission on constitutional amendments.
No need to vote
Malema claimed there was no need to vote on the report to adopt it because there were no objections. “We only vote on resolutions if there is an objection on a particular motion.”
Malema’s reference to a constitutional change has enraged - and confused – youth league leaders. They say that the updated version of the constitution, published on the league’s website on Tuesday, was hastily and illegally changed.
A delegate who sat on the constitutional amendment commission said this particular amendment was never discussed. Another delegate - a Malema supporter - said “most of the amendments” presented to the plenary were adopted.
OR Tambo regional secretary Ndumiso Sapepa said: “I supported Malema at the conference and it is not true that there was an amendment to the constitution.
“They [Malema and his supporters] are amending it now because they want to secure their positions... we understand their challenges with the ANC, but we are not going to be co-opted into this,” Sapepa said.
City Press understands from sources close to the hearing that Malema and his allies were taken by surprise when the ANC’s national disciplinary committee chairperson, Derek Hanekom, quoted from the league's "old" constitution when he announced his findings last week.
When asked about the mystery amendment, youth league secretary general Sindiso Magaqa said they did not owe anybody an explanation. He claimed the amendment of the constitution was done at the Midrand congress in June.
When asked exactly when this was done, he said the delegates who challenged this should write to the league’s national executive committee. He said he was not going to reveal what was discussed in closed sessions.
“We are the national executive committee of the youth league. It’s us who know resolutions. It’s us who know what happened in the constitution.
"Anyone who questions our constitution must come to us, not you as the media,” said Magaqa before abruptly ending the call.
Not on record
Ayanda Ndevu, a league member from the Western Cape who attended the conference, said this was the first time he had heard of the amendment. “This was never raised at the conference. They amended it themselves.”
A KwaZulu-Natal league leader who was a delegate said: “I was there as a voting delegate and part of the committee on resolutions. We don’t have that amendment on record.”
Meanwhile, league leaders have started jostling for positions should Malema’s suspension stand.
While his deputy, Ronald Lamola, is expected to act in his stead, treasurer Pule Mabe - the most senior of the league’s remaining officials - is said to be a favourite to take over the reins. Mabe refused to comment.
There are also claims that league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu has his eye on the league’s presidency for 2014.
– Additional reporting by Xolani Mbanjwa and Sabelo Skiti.