Malema to ask ANC to overturn suspension
Johannesburg - Fiery youth leader Julius Malema was expected to ask the ANC to set aside his five-year suspension on Monday.
His appeal began without any of the unrest that plagued the start of his disciplinary hearing in August, when his supporters clashed with police in Johannesburg.
The party kept a thick veil of secrecy on the proceedings.
"It's a pending decision. Nobody will talk to the media about the matter," ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said.
Five other ANC Youth League leaders will appeal similar suspensions during the same hearings, by a committee that includes senior party leaders such as businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.
A dozen journalists outnumbered onlookers at the ANC headquarters in central Johannesburg early on Monday, while a few police officers stood guard.
Not allowed to plead for lesser sentence
A lone protester wearing an ANC shirt and cap and chains around his neck, waist, wrists and ankles urged Ramaphosa to be harsh.
The man held a placard with the words: "Comrade Cyril, do the right thing, there's no case here, just shackles."
Malema is expected to ask for his suspension to be overturned because he was not allowed to plead for a lesser sentence.
In November he was found guilty of sowing divisions within the ANC, misconduct and bringing the party into disrepute, following weeks of hearings that were marred by violent protests.
The charge of bringing the party into disrepute stemmed from his call for a regime change in democratic Botswana.
Malema and the youth league apologised for the statement. He is likely to argue that the disciplinary committee should have dropped the charge because of the apology.
His suspension will only take effect once he exhausts his appeals, which he could take all the way to the ANC National Executive Committee, which will meet in December at the party's leadership conference.
Malema has kept his anti-Zuma campaign at full-throttle despite the disciplinary process.
During the ANC's centennial celebrations earlier this month, Malema held his own rallies where supporters sang songs ridiculing the president.
The ruling party excluded the youth league from addressing the official anniversary celebrations.
But ejecting Malema from the party would not eliminate the threat he poses, according to Fiona Forde, author of a Malema biography.
"Malema is the latest thing and it is unlikely that suspending or even expelling him from the ANC at this stage will clip his wings in any meaningful way," Forde wrote in The Star newspaper on Monday.