S.Africa's ANC charges youth leader for sowing divisions

19th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) Friday charged the firebrand leader of its youth wing Julius Malema with bringing the party into disrepute and sowing internal divisions.

"Comrade Julius Malema has been charged with various violations of the ANC Constitution, including bringing the ANC into disrepute through his utterances and statements on Botswana and sowing divisions in the ranks of the African National Congress," said the party.

Malema angered party leaders with his group's call last month for regime change in neighbouring Botswana which it labelled a puppet of the United States.

The comments drew an unusually harsh response amid intensified open clashes with President Jacob Zuma and ANC top brass as the party readies to choose its presidential candidate next year.

"This insult and disrespect to the President, the government and the people of Botswana and a threat to destabilise and effect regime change in Botswana is a clear demonstration that the ANCYLs ill discipline has clearly crossed the political line," said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu on August 1.

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) said it would form a "Botswana Command Team" to unite the country's opposition parties, and called Botswana "a security threat to Africa and always under constant puppetry of the United States".

Malema was charged alongside league spokesman Floyd Shivambu despite the organisation's apology and withdrawal of the comments.

Last year, Malema was warned that he faced suspension from the party if he was again found guilty of provoking divisions within two years when he was slapped with a 10,000 rands ($1,400, 968 euros) fine and anger management classes for criticising Zuma.

"It's difficult to say now what the outcome will be," ANC spokesman Keith Khoza told AFP.

The charges came as top party officials, including Zuma, started a national executive committee meeting tasked with discussing serious matters of organisation building and renewal.

"We will also discuss the need for discipline within the ranks of the movement," Zuma, who is pushing for re-election, said in a statement.

Malema is also under increasing fire over his private wealth with accusations of stashing kickbacks for oiling tender deals in a trust fund splashed over newspapers in recent weeks.

Authorities are probing a company linked to the outspoken leader over contracts awarded in his home province of Limpopo, The Star reported Friday.

Regarded as a belligerent buffoon by critics and a pro-poor champion by fans, the 30-year-old is no stranger to controversy and is pushing for the nationalisation of mines.

Along with last year's guilty verdict, he was also told to apologise to Zuma -- whose rise to the presidency he staunchly supported -- for saying that he was worse than his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, who was pushed from office in 2008.

Other charges related to breaking the party line on Zimbabwe, where Zuma is a mediator, singing a racially charged song about killing white farmers, and calling a BBC journalist a "bastard" and chasing him from a press conference, were dropped.

He was also fined 50,000 rand in the Equality Court after saying that a woman who accused Zuma of rape, for which he was cleared, had enjoyed herself as she had breakfast and asked for taxi money to go home.

The date for the latest disciplinary hearing is yet to be announced and the two accused are entitled to defend themselves against the charges.

© 2011 AFP

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