S.Africa's ANC scraps venue change for Malema hearing

31st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling African National Congress has scrapped a plan to move a disciplinary hearing against its controversial youth wing leader to a secret venue, the party said Wednesday.

The first day of hearings against Julius Malema, the fiery leader of the ANC youth league, saw violent protests erupt Tuesday in central Johannesburg, prompting the ruling party to say it was moving the inquiry to an undisclosed venue outside the city.

But party spokesman Jackson Mthembu shifted gears Wednesday and said the hearing would continue at Luthuli House, the ANC's headquarters.

"The hearing will be held at Luthuli House. However, if the situation does not improve from Tuesday, it will be moved to an alternative venue," he told the Sapa news agency.

Thousands of Malema followers flocked to central Johannesburg Tuesday in a show of support for the 30-year-old leader, who faces charges of "bringing the ANC into disrepute" and "sowing divisions" in the ruling party.

A police officer was hospitalised and five journalists injured in clashes between police and supporters, who set fire to the ANC's flag and T-shirts bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma.

Malema is a divisive figure in South Africa, where he has a devoted following of poor young blacks but has set many elites on edge with his racially charged rhetoric about nationalising the country's mines and redistributing its wealth.

He has also sometimes been a thorn in the side of the ANC's leadership.

Last year the party's disciplinary committee found him guilty of criticising Zuma, and he faces possible expulsion from the party if found guilty in his current hearing.

© 2011 AFP

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