Only ANCYL can fire leadership: Malema


Only the ANC Youth League has the right to dismiss its leaders, its embattled leader Julius Malema told delegates at the league's three-day lekgotla in Pretoria on Friday.

"If the youth says we must step down and resign, we are prepared to step down."

To applause, Malema said the leadership had effectively been found guilty of abiding by the resolutions of the league's 24th congress held in 2011.

"The basic lesson we have learned is that of democratic centralisation... we are guilty of thinking."

However, when Malema opened his speech, he said he had earlier joked with his deputy Ronald Lamola, who was also facing suspension, that the speech he was about to give could be his farewell one.

Lamola said Malema's "state-of-the-youth address" would define the future of the youth league, the ANC, and the future of the country's youth.

Malema said if the ANC had the right to fire the league's leaders, then it should be appointing the leadership which, he pointed out, it did not.

The youth leader said the disciplinary hearing against him and five other ANCYL officials was politically motivated. He said discipline in the ANC was applied inconsistently.

"If there was any form of consistency, those who were attending meetings of the ANC under the influence of alcohol and some of those who were arrested for drinking and driving should have been subjected to disciplinary processes," Malema said.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu was arrested for drunk driving in Cape Town in March 2011.

"We did not commit anything wrong against the movement. The only thing we did was to speak about how the land must be restored to its original owners."

Malema reiterated his call for the nationalisation of mines, banks, and "monopolistic" industries. This call for nationalisation was in line with the ANC's Freedom Charter, according to which the country's resources should belong to everybody in the country, he said.

Malema had a dig at what he described as attempts to stifle debate about succession within the ANC.

"The succession battle should be discussed without fear or favour. It should not be a taboo topic."

He said South Africa should accept that it had lost its political clout in Africa following its stance on Libya and the Ivory Coast.

"We should soon accept that the majority of the African countries do not want South Africa to assume the chairperson position of the African Union."

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last week lost a bid to unseat current AU chairman Jean Ping of Gabon.

Malema said Dlamini-Zuma's failure to win the AU post was a sign the continent was rejecting South Africa's foreign policies.

"South Africa should withdraw its bid for the post. We cannot afford to hold the African Union at ransom. We should accept reality."

Malema received a rousing welcome from delegates when he arrived at the lekgotla. As soon as he was on stage, delegates broke out into loud singing before his opening speech.

Lamola introduced Malema as the "chief commander of the economic freedom fighters".

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was also expected to speak.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe arrived at the lekgotla shortly after Malema concluded his speech.

Delegates toyi-toyed and sang before the conference started. Some of the songs being sung were "Bloemfontein 2012, we are voting for Malema" and "The shower man is troubling us", a reference to President Jacob Zuma.

The event was Malema's first public appearance since the ANC announced last Saturday that his appeal against his five-year suspension from the ANC had been rejected.

He was found guilty of bringing the ANC into disrepute and of sowing division within the party after, among other things, making a statement about regime change in Botswana.

He, however, remains a party member until arguments in mitigation of his sentence have been concluded.

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