No comment - youth league
Carien du Plessis, City Press
Johannesburg - Don’t talk to me, talk to my lawyer.
That was the pre-emptive message by the ANC Youth League in anticipation of an announcement on Wednesday on the fate of its leader Julius Malema.
On Wednesday afternoon, the league said in a statement it wouldn’t be commenting on the announcement by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee (NDC).
It was expected that Malema’s lawyers would be meeting with the NDC at 15:00, before ANC officials were informed, and before a statement was sent out to inform the public.
But it has now been reported that Malema has lodged a formal complaint about getting too short notice about the NDC’s decision. The committee said in a press release around 08:00 on Wednesday that it would announce its verdict later today.
League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said in a statement that the league’s leadership “would not take any media enquiry to respond to the outcomes of the ANC disciplinary process”.
The NDC said in its statement this morning that it “had applied its collective mind”.
Malema’s lawyer on Wednesday confirmed that the suspended youth league leader is in Seshego in Limpopo but that the NDC’s verdict was too “short-notice” for all concerned.
It is unclear what will happen if Malema doesn't receive the verdict in person, but in November, when the NDC announced its original verdict, the young leader sent representatives to receive it. At the time he was in Polokwane where he wrote an exam.
Wednesday would not be the end of the road for the young firebrand, as he would be allowed to appeal the NDC’s decision on his sentence to the party’s NDC of appeal.
Following that, he could still approach the party’s national executive committee (NEC), and finally the conference in December in Mangaung, to ask for reinstatement as an ANC member.
If he followed the latter route of asking the NEC or conference to review the disciplinary committee’s decision, the ANC Youth League might be required to call another conference to re-elect Malema before he could be reinstated as its leader.
Earlier this month Malema asked for his five-year suspension from the party, for sowing division in its ranks, to be reduced, while Shivambu asked for a reduction of his three-year suspension for swearing at a journalist, and secretary general Sindiso Magaqa asked for mitigation of his suspended sentence for defaming Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.
All of them were also found guilty of saying regime change should be brought about in Botswana, something which was counter to ANC policy.
Malema could see his sentence reduced on Wednesday, but he could also finally be expelled from the party.
The last prominent ANC leader to be expelled from the party was UDM leader Bantu Holomisa in 1996.
During the mitigation hearings, ANC prosecutors argued for aggravation of the sentence because Malema and his colleagues didn’t show remorse.
They also made public pronouncements, such as referring to leaders within the ANC as “the enemy” and singing songs about shower men, deriding President Jacob Zuma.
Malema and five others from the league were charged in August last year, and found guilty and sentenced in November.
But they told the appeal committee that they should have been given a chance to argue for mitigation of their sentences before being sentenced.
The appeal committee earlier this month upheld the NDC’s findings, but dropped one charge related to the league’s leadership barging into a meeting of the ANC’s officials.
This meant Malema’s deputy Ronald Lamola, league treasurer Pule Mabe, and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi had no charges remaining against them.
Malema, Shivambu and Magaqa went on to argue for mitigation.
Malema has been defiant all through his disciplinary hearing.
This week he told a mini-rally in Soweto and while addressing striking miners in Rustenburg that his blood remained “black, green and gold”.
He also said the ANC was in his DNA, and accused the party of forsaking its children.