‘Malema needs a wounded tiger’

2012-01-14 17:39

Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has come under fire from fellow league leaders about plans to meet former president Thabo Mbeki.

Days before the ANC is due to hear Malema’s appeal against his five-year suspension from the party, the league is divided and “in limbo”.

A youth league national executive committee (NEC) member who spoke on condition of anonymity said Malema was fighting “personal” battles now.

“He is trying to use anyone else he can get (as an ally). (Deputy President) Kgalema (Motlanthe) is too reserved. He needs another wounded tiger to help him,” the source said.

He said the league had not discussed meeting Mbeki and Malema was told off by league leaders after he said on SAFM on Tuesday, “we need to go and see (Mbeki)” to persuade him to get involved in domestic politics again.”

Malema backtracked two days later, telling City Press the league had to discuss it first.

Mukoni Ratshitanga, Mbeki’s spokesperson, said this week that Mbeki had received no request for a meeting with Malema yet.

But another league NEC leader said Malema’s cosying up to Mbeki was the result of a “lull” in the league due to Malema’s suspension.

“There has never been any discussion in the NEC about meeting that man or affirming him in any way,” said the source.

Malema was “communicating his own feelings and wants to create a feeling of nostalgia” in a campaign to oust President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

But at least one NEC member, Andile Lungisa, said Malema and league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa could decide on behalf of the league.

“Mbeki is a former president of the ANC and he is a giant. There is not a single young person my age who does not want to meet him,” he said.

Last Sunday at the ANC’s centenary rally in Bloemfontein, Malema shared a joke with Mbeki on the stage.

A source who was briefed about the exchange said Mbeki told Malema he had heard Malema had been causing “problems” in the ANC. Mbeki told Malema his idea about the national democratic revolution, one of the rallying points of the ANC, was incorrect.

One of Malema’s lawyers, Advocate Dali Mpofu, said they would lodge appeal papers with the ANC’s appeals committee by the deadline tomorrow. The hearing is set for next Monday.

Although the appeal would be argued from papers, Malema said he would attend.

City Press has learnt that the appeal would start by trying to get Malema’s suspension over-turned. A source close to the case said the league was never given a chance to argue in mitigation of sentence even though ANC general-secretary Gwede Mantashe had “agreed” to allow this. Arguing for mitigation would be consistent with “natural justice”. League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu is set to appeal his three-year suspension, while the other four officials want their suspended sentences overturned.

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