August 20 2011
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema faces political ruin and humiliation.
Yesterday the ruling ANC announced it had charged the outspoken youth leader for bringing it into disrepute - the second time he will have been disciplined inside 16 months on the same charge.
He is still subject to a suspended sentence, still valid for six months, that if imposed will lead to his mandatory suspension from the ANC.
This time, it was Malema’s comments on the “puppet-regime” in neighbouring Botswana that finally snapped the party elders’ patience.
Malema and the league withdrew the statement last Saturday - two weeks after it was issued. The ANC yesterday responded, charging Malema and his lieutenant, Floyd Shivambu.
Yesterday, a highly placed source said: “The public and you guys in the media underestimated the embarrassment the ANC felt over the Botswana statement.”
The ANC is understood to have been mortified by Malema’s threat to send a youth league team to overthrow Botswana’s government. Last night, ANC insiders were speculating that the teflon-like Malema, who has led a charmed life within the party despite his utterances on everything from nationalisation, racial harmony and even the country’s president – often at odds with the ANC – might not survive this latest bid to bring him to heel.
The charges came a day after the public protector decided to probe a company linked to Malema, On-Point Engineering, which has been fingered in the irregular award of tenders in the Limpopo Roads and Transport Department.
Malema is also being investigated for corruption by the Hawks.
Opposition parties welcomed the disciplinary action, with the United Democratic Movement saying it was long overdue. UDM secretary general, Bongani Msomi, said Malema had been like a bull in a china shop for too long, and South Africans had borne the brunt of his utterances.
“The damage his blind insolence has done to our economy is incalculable.”
Freedom Front Plus spokesman, Anton Alberts, said Malema should also have been charged with bringing the ANC into disrepute with his “racist” comments against whites.
Malema has a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to undermining President Jacob Zuma last year. He was warned not to commit a similar offence for two years or his ANC membership would be suspended.
He was fined R10 000, ordered to attend political education at the party school for almost three weeks, and to attend anger management classes under the supervision of ANC officials.
The ANC member said that in making the Botswana statements, Malema had done exactly what he had been warned not to do.
Last April, Malema got away with a slap on the wrist after he was charged for his behaviour on a visit to Zimbabwe when he aligned himself with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF as the ANC was trying to mediate in Zimbabwe; singing “shoot the Boer” after AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche was murdered on his farm; and insulting and ordering a BBC reporter out of an ANCYL press conference at Luthuli House in Joburg.
Last month, the league resolved in its first executive meeting after its June national congress to establish a Botswana command team which, the league said, would work towards uniting the opposition in Botswana to oppose the “puppet regime” led by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Weeks later the ANCYL apologised to the ANC for the statement.
The ANC, which sternly rebuked the league over the Botswana statement, had until yesterday not responded to the apology.
At the time, the mother body described the league’s statements as “extremely thoughtless and embarrassing pronouncements”, saying the command team proposal was a deviation from and an affront to ANC policies.
“This insult and disrespect to the President (Honourable Ian Khama), the government and the people of Botswana and a threat to destabilise and effect regime change in Botswana is a clear demonstration that the ANCYL’s ill discipline has clearly crossed the political line.”
The ANC’s national disciplinary committee chairman and Deputy Science and Technology Minister, Derek Hanekom, told e.tv yesterday that Malema and Shivambu have been charged separately and would have separate hearings, scheduled for August 30 and 31.
The ANC’s chief national prosecutor Uriel Abrahamse, who presented the case on behalf of the office of the party’s secretary-general Gwede Mantashe last year, will again lead the prosecution, but it is not clear who will represent the duo. Malema was represented by ANC treasurer-general and lawyer Mathews Phosa last time.