Home News S.Africa’s fiery youth leader Malema to learn fate Saturday

S.Africa’s fiery youth leader Malema to learn fate Saturday

Published on 04/02/2012

The ANC youth league's fiery leader, Julius Malema, will learn his fate Saturday after appealing his suspension on disciplinary charges, in what is seen as a battle to control South Africa's ruling party.

The president of the African National Congress’ appeals committee, influential businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, will announce the committee’s decision in a press conference at 12:30 pm (1030 GMT), the party said.

Malema, 30, was suspended from the ANC for five years in November for charges that included provoking divisions in the party and damaging its image. Five other top youth league officials charged alongside him are also appealing.

Malema’s challenge 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 former president Thabo Mbeki to take control of the ANC in 2007, but 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.

Malema’s knack for stirring up racially charged controversy — for example by publicly singing an anti-apartheid struggle song calling to “shoot the white farmer” — has also made him one of South Africa’s most controversial figures.

His suspension could be upheld, reduced or overturned Saturday, or it could be referred back to the disciplinary committee on grounds that he was not allowed to plead for a lesser sentence.

If the appeals committee upholds the suspension, Malema can ask the ANC’s national executive committee to review the case.

The youth league said that after the verdict, its leaders would report the outcome in person to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former president Nelson Mandela and a top Malema backer in the ANC.