Malema admits youth league succession talk

2011-11-16 13:28

Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has openly admitted that youth leaders are already vying for his position, should his suspension stick.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the youth league trying to think about who could be the (league’s) next president.

“We should never shy away from such an engagement because would show that we are scared of open debate,” he told journalists at a packed press conference in a stuffy Luthuli House foyer today.

Malema also said he would be appealing his five-year suspension from the ANC, while his fellow officials would challenge their suspended sentences of suspension.

This follows a ten-week long disciplinary hearing against them for charges ranging from bringing the ANC into disrepute to disrespect towards its leaders.

In answer to a question he denied that there was “disintegration” or “division” in the youth league, as had been reported.

“You can’t take it away from people that, when there is a possibility of the president of the youth league being suspended or removed, they think of a possible solution.

The membership of the youth league should be offered an opportunity to offer such solutions,” he said.

Malema said if his suspension held, the league would need a new president.It has been reported that league treasurer Pule Mabe, one of the league’s longest-serving officials, has his eye on Malema’s position, while Malema’s deputy, Ronald Lamola, felt he would automatically step up should Malema go.

Still, Malema seemed confident that the league’s appeal would hold, saying “we have confidence in the internal processes”.

But Malema apparently contradicted himself when he said that ANC leaders would be too partial to serve on any appeals or review body after the ANC issued a statement its leaders supported the disciplinary outcome.

Malema said this seemed to include leaders who have to serve on the party’s appeal committee, as well as national executive committee members who might have to review the sentences.

If the national disciplinary committee of appeal upheld their sentences, the league’s officials would ask the national executive committee to take the matter on review.

Its secretary-general, Sindiso Magaqa, who, like Malema, is an ex-officio member of the committee, would raise the matter because his suspended sentence still allowed him to attend ANC meetings.Even so, the league seems to be keeping open a back door in case these appeals fail.

Malema said the ANC held “strong views” that the league’s “economic freedom” march last month should not go ahead, “but we went and persuaded them (otherwise)”, he said.

“Even now, what stops us from persuading them?”

But he denied that the league would seek a “political solution” to the disciplinary outcome.

Malema admitted that the hearing had distracted the league from continuing its programmes for the youth, but even so, “resigning is not an option. I must be fired,” he said.

If he resigned, he would be taking away the right of the youth league to choose their leaders and reduce it to a tame “desk” of the ANC, he said, referring to previous talk to deprive the league of virtually all autonomy.

Malema was re-elected at the league’s conference in June.

Malema did not want to be drawn into saying how he felt about President Jacob Zuma, adding that the league would pronounce on its support for him later, at the start of the ANC’s nomination’s process for its Mangaung conference in December next year.

But he did say: “I have no feelings for President Jacob Zuma. My relationship with Zuma is a political relationship.”

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