Malema guns for pro-Zuma premiers
Carien du Plessis, Sizwe sama Yende and Cathy Dlodlo
Johannesburg - Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema is gunning for provincial premiers sympathetic to President Jacob Zuma in a bid for political survival.
Last week, youth league leaders stripped the league’s Mpumalanga secretary John Mkhatshwa of his powers after he snubbed Malema’s call to work towards unseating Premier David Mabuza.
In Free State, where Malema has been since Thursday, the league said it is going to march against Premier Ace Magashule this week.
Half of the Mpumalanga league’s provincial executive committee resigned in protest against Mkhatshwa’s suspension on Friday.
Outgoing deputy secretary Themba Masombuka said the province did participate in youth league programmes, but had to support Mabuza as this was part of their provincial congress resolutions last year.
But league spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy denied that Mkhatshwa was kicked out because he supported Mabuza.
Rather, she said that it was because of his “inability to carry out the tasks of the youth league. Everything else is just a rumour”.
A few weeks ago, the league’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee – which was sympathetic to Zuma – was dissolved.
At the meeting attended by Malema in Bloemfontein on Thursday, provincial league chairperson Kgotso Morapela told the crowd: “Away with Magashule.”
Morapela accused Magashule of corruption and said the long-standing provincial ANC chairperson, who is pro-Zuma, should be replaced at the province’s conference next year.
While Malema is firing on all cylinders to overturn the sentence, there are serious concerns that one of the grounds of his disciplinary appeal could land the league in more trouble.
Malema’s lawyers handed in papers to the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeal on Thursday, asking them to reconsider his five-year suspension from the ANC.
One of the grounds of this appeal is an amendment to the youth league’s constitution, which many in the organisation claim was not done at its congress in June, making it illegal.
Some league leaders fear that such an amendment could give the ANC a reason to dissolve the league altogether, but Malema has denied that the amendment was illegally done.
Shore up support
One of Malema’s opponents said they have asked Luthuli House to intervene.
Malema warned that he would continue fighting for the issues he had been campaigning on, regardless of whether his suspension is held.
The league has the support of many ANC provincial secretaries, themselves former league leaders, but it is still trying to shore up support from provincial chairpersons.
This could help Malema if his appeal is ultimately reviewed by the ANC’s national executive committee, on which provincial secretaries and chairpersons serve.
Malema – flanked by party spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, who has been suspended from the ANC for three years – hinted on Thursday that he would not take his suspension lying down.
“I don’t care if whether I go or not, I will defend the decisions of the ANC Youth League until I see my grave,” he told the crowd in Bloemfontein.
“Whether I am a member of the ANC or not, in my little corner of the bundus, looking after cattle, I will convince those who are there looking after the cattle with me about the decisions of the ANC Youth League.”