S.Africa's ANC rejects Malema bid to halt discipline case

2nd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling ANC dismissed a bid Friday to drop disciplinary charges against youth leader Julius Malema and will push ahead with a hearing that could see him kicked out of the party.

"The NDC rules that the respondent's application to quash all the charges is dismissed," said the African National Congress's national disciplinary committee chaired by Derek Hanekom in a statement.

The committee turned down arguments put forward by Malema's representatives to have the case thrown out and said the hearing in which the youth leader risks suspension will resume on Monday.

Malema, an outspoken 30-year-old whose racially charged rhetoric has made him one of South Africa's most controversial figures, faces internal charges of "sowing divisions" in the ANC and bringing the ruling party into disrepute.

A small group of supporters, mainly from Malema's home province of Limpopo, turned up outside the ANC's headquarters to show support for the embattled leader, brandishing placards calling for President Jacob Zuma's head.

"Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe for President come 2012" read one of the posters, referring to the deputy president as their choice to replace Zuma.

Police kept a heavy presence outside the cordoned-off building after violent clashes with a crowd of unruly supporters at the start of the hearing on Tuesday.

The clashes injured a police officer and at least five journalists as supporters threw beer bottles and burned t-shirts with Zuma's image in a show of defiance against the ruling party.

Five other top youth league officials are also charged in the hearings, widely seen as a battle for influence over the ANC ahead of party elections next year where the top leadership posts will be chosen.

With his calls to nationalise mines and redistribute wealth to poor blacks, Malema has become a galvanising figure for millions of black youths, but has also set many South Africans on edge with his racially charged rhetoric.

Malema was a key ally in Zuma's ouster of predecessor Thabo Mbeki from the helm of the ANC, but has since fallen out with the president who came to power in 2009.

Zuma is hoping to be re-elected at the party's polls next year that will allow him to stand for a second term as president in the country's national elections in 2014.

The charge of sowing divisions comes after media reports linking Malema to a movement to oust Zuma as party leader.

The youth league would like to see him replaced by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe -- a change that would almost certainly make Motlanthe South Africa's next leader at elections in 2014, and Zuma a one-term president.

On Friday, the league criticised the party's decision to make public its reasons for throwing out Malema's application and other details of the process.

"The judgment on quashing of charges released by the ANC does not reflect the true essence of the arguments tabled by the leadership of the ANC Youth League," it added.

Malema was found guilty of criticising Zuma in another ANC disciplinary hearing last year, and faces possible expulsion from the party if found guilty again.

The charge of bringing the ANC into disrepute stems from his call last month for regime change in neighbouring Botswana. Malema later apologised for the remarks after a public rebuke from the ANC.

Despite his political base among impoverished blacks, Malema has become known for his living the high life. He lives in the upmarket Johannesburg neighbourhood of Sandton, wears a Breitling watch and has a taste for fast cars.

His wealth became the subject of a police investigation after a local newspaper reported he was the beneficiary of a trust fund that allegedly received kickbacks from businesses that won valuable government tenders.

© 2011 AFP

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