Thursday, November 10, 2011
by Staff Reporter/Reuters
SOUTH Africa's ruling African National Congress kicked its Youth League leader, Julius Malema, out of the party for five years on Thursday after finding him guilty of sowing division.
The decision by the ANC dealt a major blow to the political career of the outspoken youth leader and his push to nationalise mines in the world's biggest platinum producer.
South African stocks extended gains after news of the suspension of Malema, 30, who has unnerved investors with his drive to nationalise mines. The rand also firmed slightly after the announcement.
Derek Hanekom, head of the ANC disciplinary panel, said Malema had been found guilty of sowing serious divisions in the party and of bringing the 99-year-old liberation movement into disrepute.
Malema was found guilty of disrupting a national ANC meeting; of bringing the party into disrepute by calling for “regime change” in Botswana; and of provoking serious divisions within the party by praising Thabo Mbeki, who was sacked as party president and then removed as state president by the ANC three years ago.
"Ill-discipline is not a cure for frustration," Hanekom said.
"Such disobedience undermined the effectiveness of the ANC."
Malema's conduct "would have a negative impact on international and inter-state relations, and would be prejudicial to South Africa as a whole," he added.
Malema has to "vacate his position" as the president of the ANC Youth League, Hanekom said.
"Malema damaged the standing of the ANC and South Africa's international reputation," he added.
Malema, who was busy writing exams in Limpopo on Thursday, had 14 days to appeal against the ruling.
He would remain on full pay until all the appeal processes were completed, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.
The Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu was also suspended for three years over the Botswana statements as well as for swearing at a journalist, which the disciplinary hearing said had brought the party into disrepute.
Four other top ANCYL officials were also found guilty on various charges, but were granted suspended sentences — meaning they retain their memberships unless they are convicted of a new offence.
Suspension of Malema should also help pave the way for President Jacob Zuma to secure a second term as ANC leader – and hence the country's president – at a party conference in a year.
But the unexpectedly harsh sentence imposed on Malema, a significant power broker in the ANC, could provoke an anti-Zuma backlash.
ANC insiders say Malema is part of a plot to replace Zuma with a leader more sympathetic to the Youth League's desire to nationalise the mines and quicken the pace of land reforms.
He has some powerful backers within the ANC - among them millionaire housing minister and businessman Tokyo Sexwale and Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who remains an MP.
It is thought that the faction could push for Deputy President Kaglema Motlanthe to take over from Zuma as party president at its elective conference next December.