Will he stay or will he go?

2011-09-17 16:34

What happens if ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is suspended by the ­party’s national disciplinary committee...and what happens if he isn’t? We examine both scenarios.

If Julius Malema is found guilty of sowing division, his ANC membership will automatically be suspended by the national disciplinary committee.

Malema is like a prisoner on parole. He was found guilty of sowing divisions in the party in May last year and was told he would be summarily suspended if convicted of the same offence within a two-year period.

The disciplinary committee will have to determine the period of suspension. The ANC prosecution wants to suspend Malema for a maximum of five years.

With Malema in the political wilderness, it will be smooth sailing to a second term for President Jacob Zuma. The youth league is campaigning hard to oust him and for a generational mix of leaders in the top six of the governing party.

Even if Malema is suspended, the charismatic youth leader may continue to fight a proxy war with his allies – like Fikile Mbalula – still inside the ANC continuing in their attempt to unseat the ANC president.

Without the strictures of party discipline, Malema could prove even more dangerous for Zuma, but he would also lose access to resources since he would not be in a position to influence the ­distribution of tenders.

He might also be out of politics for so long that he would have lost any relevance by the time he returns. And if the other youth league leaders also facing disciplinary charges are suspended, then the governing party’s youth wing will come under the ANC’s administration until a new leadership is elected at a specially convened elective ­conference.

If only Malema is suspended, deputy Ronald Lamola would have to step in as acting leader until a new president was elected at the next national council.

But Malema still has the option of ­appealing his suspension with the ­national disciplinary committee of ­appeal, which has the power to reverse or confirm a national disciplinary committee ruling.

The ANC national executive committee has the discretion to review a ­decision of the appeals committee, which Malema is banking on.

Not suspended:
If Malema is not suspended, Zuma could be a dead man walking and a weakened leader, or he could spin it ­into an opportunity to groom Malema into a disciplined cadre.

Zuma has made conciliatory gestures by suggesting that Malema needed to be corrected rather than be thrown out of the party. This way, Malema might feel beholden to Zuma, who will be seen as having saved his skin.

A reprimand with strict conditions may muzzle the motormouth youth and contain his behaviour in the build-up to the Mangaung conference.

If Malema is not suspended, Zuma is well aware that the man who was once “prepared to kill” for him, may in fact bay for his blood.

There is a plan to weaken Malema’s support in the provinces, particularly in his home province of Limpopo, by building alternative leadership.

This is clearly a strategy by Zuma’s allies to ensure that even if Malema ­escapes suspension, he is unable to ­become a political powerhouse in the lead-up to Mangaung.

A severely reprimanded Malema will behave like a good schoolboy until early next year. But he could well rebuild his base, and take a leading and militant role once the ANC opens the succession debate. And then neither Zuma nor secretary-general Gwede Mantashe will be able to rein him in.

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