Firebrand youth leader Julius Malema will appeal his expulsion from South Africa’s ANC, the ruling party’s Youth League said Monday, vowing to defy the mother body and keep him as its leader.
Malema was expelled last week by the African National Congress’ disciplinary committee, which found him guilty last year of bringing the party into disrepute and sowing divisions with negative comments on President Jacob Zuma.
“The leadership of the ANC Youth League will within 14 days appeal the sentence of the national disciplinary committee,” said the league’s deputy president, Ronald Lamola.
Reading from a statement by the Youth League’s national executive, which met at the weekend to discuss the sanctions against the 31-year-old Malema and two other top officials, Lamola said Malema’s expulsion was politically motivated and that the league would not accept it.
“The charges brought against the leadership of the ANC Youth League are based on political developments and realities, and it is only a political discussion and solution that can bring the differences to rest,” he told a press conference.
“The leadership of the ANC Youth League… will never be removed by any process that does not include the structures and membership of the ANC Youth League.”
Co-founded by former president Nelson Mandela, the Youth League has a history of pushing for radical policies within ANC.
But Malema and his co-leaders have brought tensions with the mother body to new heights with their vocal criticism of the ANC’s failure to reverse the poverty still facing most blacks 18 years after apartheid.
Malema was a key ally in Zuma’s rise to power, but later turned on the president and was seen as a threat to his re-election as ANC leader later this year at a conference that, given the party’s strength, will effectively choose South Africa’s next president.