ANC suspends Julius Malema


South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) has suspended its youth leader for five years for sowing intolerance and disunity by criticising the president and his policies.

The action, announced live on national television, against Julius Malema was unexpectedly severe. The party in previous months had seemed unwilling to crack down on a man who spewed insults and divisive rhetoric, one whom old guard ANC leaders apparently did not want to alienate. 

The 30-year-old has been seen as the king maker who helped President Jacob Zuma defeat a predecessor in an internal party power struggle but brought on the sanctions by criticizing the president and his policies concerning neighboring Botswana. 

"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, chairman of the party's national disciplinary committee. 

Malema has 14 days to appeal the rulings made by an internal ANC disciplinary panel. Malema said he would appeal. 

"We are not intimidated by any outcome," he said in the northern town of Polokwane, where South Africa's eTV station showed him addressing a small crowd of supporters. "The ANC is our home." 

The sanctions deprive Malema, who has been active in the ANC since he was a primary school student and it was a banned group battling apartheid, of a formal power base. 

The ANC said Malema's membership was frozen because he questioned whether Zuma was providing the kind of pan-African leadership that former President Thabo Mbeki had provided. Ironically, Malema helped bring Zuma to power by rallying enough votes to make him the head of the ANC, replacing Mbeki. The ANC president generally is the party's candidate to lead the country, and Zuma went on to become president in 2009. 

Malema's suspension also stemmed from his calling the government of neighboring Botswana imperialist, which the ANC sees as an ally. 

Few Malema supporters were outside ANC headquarters Thursday. They showed little reaction to the ruling, contrasting with crowds who rioted when the disciplinary hearings against Malema began in August. Demonstrators had burned ANC flags and T-shirts bearing Zuma's image. 

Malema portrayed himself as the political heir of former Youth League leaders like Nelson Mandela. Mandela helped found the league in 1944 and was known then as being more radical than older ANC leaders. 

The ANC's disciplinary committee appeared to take issue with comparisons to Mandela in its ruling Thursday against Malema and five other Youth League leaders, saying some had shown an "arrogance and defiance" that was "a far cry from the manner in which different leaders of the Youth League, over the decades, conducted their affairs." 

Malema still has influential allies within the ANC, including Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Malema's elders had said they believed he had potential and wanted to groom him for larger roles, but he has repeatedly clashed with the ANC old guard, criticizing them for everything from their accents to their politics. 

After an earlier round of disciplinary hearings, the party fined Malema in May, ordering him to apologize for sowing discord and undermining Zuma's authority. Malema also was handed a two-year suspension that was not immediately imposed. On Thursday, the ANC said that earlier suspension would now take effect, and run concurrently with the new five-year suspension. 

Malema had called for nationalization of South Africa's mines, though that debate was not related to Malema's disciplinary process. ANC leaders have repeatedly said nationalization is not government policy. 

On Wednesday, Moody's rating agency changed its credit rating outlook from stable to negative for South Africa, citing among the reasons the nationalization debate. Moody's said the discussion was scaring investors. 

In September, Malema lost a suit brought by a white rights group that had accused him of hate speech for repeatedly singing a song some whites find offensive. Malema and others say "Shoot the Boer" is a call to resist oppression. "Boer" means farmer in Afrikaans, and is sometimes used to refer to whites. 

Malema and his supporters have continued to sing the song despite the September court order banning it. 


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before