South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party said yesterday it would give its Youth League leader, Julius Malema, a chance to explain accusations made in a newspaper that he had a slush fund to pay for his lavish lifestyle.
Mr Malema's call to nationalise mines and seize white-owned land has unnerved investors but has also seen him gain ground among poor blacks, who make up the majority of the country's voters and envision him as a future leader of Africa's most powerful economy.
Jackson Mthembu, an ANC spokesman, said: "We will have to speak to Malema before discussing the issue in the media. We want him to explain."
At a separate news conference held at ANC headquarters but not attended by Malema, Youth League executives dismissed the allegations, saying the fund in question was a trust fund used for charitable purposes. On Sunday the City Press newspaper reported that Mr Malema had set up a trust fund in his son's name to collect bribes in exchange for helping people win government contracts.
Youth League executives said Mr Malema was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by "white capitalists", "imperialists sucking the blood out of Africa" and those opposed to his plans to nationalise mines in the resource-rich country. The Youth League's secretary general, Sindiso Magaqa, said: "The ANC Youth League is fully aware that all these allegations are an attempt to divert our attention from the issues we are raising, particularly on nationalisation of mines and expropriation of land without compensation."
The ANC has faced calls from political allies and opponents to investigate Mr Malema's flamboyant lifestyle, which includes lavish parties and expensive property. ReutersReuse content