South Africa’s firebrand youth leader Julius Malema defied his suspension from the ruling African National Congress, addressing a Good Friday church service despite his latest gag order.
In his speech he denounced those who had turned against him and even suggested that some of his enemies wanted him dead, according to a report in the Dispatch Online, the website of the regional Daily Dispatch newspaper.
“I will never be silenced. There is nobody who has a right to silence me,” Malema told the congregation at the Last Move Ministries in the Eastern Cape town of Butterworth.
The church appearance was billed as an official event of the ANC Youth League.
“We want the church to pray for us because those that used to be our friends have turned against us,” he said, according to the website of the regional Daily Dispatch newspaper.
“They have not only turned against us but plan our death,” he was quoted as saying.
Malema faces expulsion from the ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, which has governed South Africa since the first all-race elections in 1994.
A party disciplinary panel has convicted him of provoking discord within the ANC and ordered his expulsion.
He is appealing that decision, but this week was hit with a gag order and immediate suspension after he called President Jacob Zuma a dictator.
The latest censure forbids him from appearing or speaking on behalf of the ANC.
Malema’s battle is just one skirmish in the run-up to the ANC’s elective meeting in December, when Zuma will seek another term as party boss.
Winning that post would virtually assure him of a second term as president, due to the ANC’s huge voter support.
Once a fierce campaigner for Zuma, Malema has turned against him, while making controversial calls to seize white-owned farms and nationalise mines.