Home News S. Africa’s ANC dismisses youth leader’s suspension appeal

S. Africa’s ANC dismisses youth leader’s suspension appeal

Published on 04/02/2012

South Africa's ruling ANC on Saturday threw out an appeal by its fiery youth league leader, Julius Malema, to overturn his suspension, but said he could argue for a lighter sentence.

“The NDCA (appeals committee) is satisfied with the finding of the NDC (national disciplinary committee) and finds no reason to bury the finding of the NDC,” said the party’s appeals committee chair, influential businessman Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The appellant’s appeal is therefore dismissed,” he added.

Malema, 30, was suspended from the ANC for five years in November on charges that included provoking divisions in the party and damaging its image. Five other suspended top youth league officials also had their appeals thrown out.

Responding to a protest by Malema and two co-accused that they were never allowed to plead for a lighter sentence, the appeals committee referred the matter back to the disciplinary committee for arguments from both sides, in favour of both decreasing and increasing the sentence.

“As the appellants themselves prayed… that the matter be referred back to the NDC to determine an appropriate sanction after hearing evidence in mitigation and aggravation of sanction that the parties may wish to present, such hearing shall be conducted by the NDC within 14 days from date hereof, Ramaphosa said.

He told a packed press conference at the ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg that the appeals committee had set aside one of the youth leaguers’ convictions, on a charge of barging into a meeting of senior ANC leaders.

But the other convictions were upheld — including, for Malema, that he had sowed division in the party with his praise for former president Thabo Mbeki and brought it into disrepute with a call to oust the democratic government of neighbouring Botswana.

Malema’s fight for political survival comes as President Jacob Zuma seeks to consolidate his control over the ANC ahead of party elections in December.

The youth league leader was a key ally when Zuma toppled Mbeki to take control of the ANC in 2007, but he later turned on Zuma, praising Mbeki as a better leader — remarks that resulted in one of his convictions.

The youth league’s “young lions”, as members are known, have criticised Zuma for failing to do more to reverse the poverty still facing the large majority of blacks 18 years after the end of white-minority rule.

Their calls to nationalise mines, seize white-owned land and redistribute wealth to poor blacks have put the ruling party in an awkward position both with the black population that is the bulk of its electorate and with the business community.

But Ramaphosa said the appeals committee did not find evidence that settling scores was the motive for the disciplinary case.

“The appellant has failed to convince the NDCA that the charges were instituted to settle political scores,” he said.