Julius Malema has asked the ANC to drop three of the charges against him because they have “no substance”.
In a lengthy argument which dominated Wednesday’s disciplinary hearing proceedings, the ANC Youth League president’s legal counsel argued that the committee should dismiss the charges relating to:
* Malema’s comments last month that the youth league would set up a “command team” which would assist the opposition parties in Botswana to unseat President Ian Khama. The league leadership also called Khama “a puppet of the West”.
* Malema’s comments during a local government election rally in Kimberley where he labelled whites criminals, reportedly saying: “We must take the land without paying. They took ours without paying. Once we agree (that) they stole our land, we can agree (that) they are criminals and must be treated as such”.
* Comments he made in which he praised former president Thabo Mbeki, saying his departure from South Africa’s and the continent’s affairs had signalled an end to issues of the “African Agenda”.
It is understood that Malema’s legal team argued that his utterances did not constitute a breach of the ANC’s constitution because Malema was expressing an opinion held by the youth league leadership and its supporters.
His team also submitted that the league’s leadership had also apologised for its comments on Botswana and its head of state. The ANC’s prosecution rejected the application.
The hearing was postponed to Friday to allow the presiding officer, ANC NEC member Derek Hanekom, to make a decision.
The national disciplinary committee (NDC) said it needed time to “deliberate on the substantive issues raised by both parties”.
If Malema wins, he and his co-accused will only be left with one charge to answer – that of storming a meeting chaired by President Jacob Zuma early last month. Zuma was apparently unhappy about their action because he had instructed an ANC NEC member to inform Malema that he had postponed their scheduled meeting. Malema and his co-accused – deputy president Ronald Lamola; secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa; his deputy, Kenetswe Mosenogi; and treasurer Pule Mabe – allegedly ignored the official.
The disciplinary hearing of Floyd Shivambu was postponed to a later date, the NDC said.
Magaqa briefed Malema’s supporters outside Beyers Naude Square after the adjournment, saying: “There are lots of things happening inside, but we cannot brief you on them because they are internal matters.”
He also appealed to the crowd to maintain discipline when they return tomorrow. “We find hope, when we see you, during hard times. You bring hope to the leadership of the ANC Youth League,” Magaqa said.
Meanwhile, the Gauteng provincial government is to lay criminal charges against the youth league for damage to one of its buildings in the Joburg city centre.
A total of 18 windows of the Department of Roads and Transport were shattered when Malema supporters pelted police with stones and bottles outside the department’s offices on Tuesday.
It is understood the decision to lay criminal charges was taken at a high-powered meeting attended by the acting head of department, Stuart Lumka, and senior officials yesterday.
It was not clear whether Lumka’s political boss, MEC Ismail Vadi, was in the building during the attack. The departmental officials have started gathering video footage and photographs and other materials which could assist in the arrest and prosecution of the suspects.
Roads and Transport spokeswoman Octavia Mamabolo confirmed the meeting but would not confirm that a decision to lay criminal charges was taken.
Support for Malema appears to have lost momentum with a drastically reduced number of supporters arriving at Beyers Naudé Square yesterday. No violence was reported.