Friday, November 11, 2011
by Staff Reporter
A FURIOUS Julius Malema warned Thursday that “the gloves are off”, as he vowed to fight his five-year suspension from South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) for allegedly sowing disunity and disgracing the party.
Malema, who leads the ANC's Youth League, effectively put President Jacob Zuma on notice when he warned of changes at the ANC's 2012 elective congress at Mangaung in the Free State, declaring: "We will be liberated by Mangaung 2012."
The outspoken and charismatic 30 year-old had appeared finished when the ANC handed down the unexpectedly tough penalty which meant he must to step-down as president of the Youth League.
However, his decision to appeal means he retains his position until the process is exhausted.
"We are not intimidated by any outcome," he said. "We remain resolute, we'll continue to fight … because the ANC is our home, and we've not any other home except the African National Congress."
Malema also warned: "We must also fight for what we believe in. We must never apologise. The gloves are off."
And speaking in Polokwane, he was quoted by local radio saying: "Let the enemy enjoy, but that victory will not last.
"Real leaders of the ANC must now stand up in defence of the ANC. What I like about these people who have suspended us is that they are brave, they are not scared."
Malema angered party grandees when he called for the overthrow of the "puppet regime" in neighbouring Botswana and unfavourably compared South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, to his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki.
He is also said to have and stormed uninvited into a meeting of senior ANC officials and was found guilty of sowing divisions and bringing the 99-year-old party into disrepute.
"The acts of misconduct for which the respondent has been found guilty are very serious and have damaged the integrity of the ANC and South Africa's international reputation," said Derek Hanekom, head of the ANC disciplinary panel.
The punishment came as a huge personal blow to Malema, who joined the party at the age of nine, when it was banned by the apartheid government. He even wore an ANC badge on his township school uniform.
He became leader of the influential Youth League in April 2008 after hotly disputed elections and quickly endeared himself with the country’s poor by demanding that wealth be redistributed from the white minority to the black majority.
Malema's value to the ANC lies in his ability to mobilise the youth vote and bring alienated jobless young people into the fold.
But his fiery rhetoric calling for the nationalisation of mines and banks unnerved investors while frequent attacks on Zuma and government ministers won him many enemies.
Meanwhile, his suspension was also being interpreted in the context of infighting within the party.
Malema, whom Zuma once said was future presidential material, was seen as the front man for a group plotting to oust the president as the ruling party's leader at a conference next year.
Analysts said his suspension increases Zuma's chances of getting a second term as the nation's president.
But others warned the conflict to drag on as Zuma's opponents seek to use Malema's punishment to whip up a backlash.