The charmed political life of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema finally seems to be reaching its end following yesterday’s announcement of his immediate suspension from the ANC by its national disciplinary committee (NDC) chairperson Derek Hanekom.
Yesterday’s announcement comes in the wake of Tuesday’s unprecedented media briefing by the ANC’s top leadership where they sent an unambiguous message to its membership that acts of indiscipline in the party will no longer be tolerated and will be acted upon with the firmness they deserve.
In announcing Malema’s suspension, Hanekom said the NDC had considered the nature and seriousness of Malema’s recent public utterances about President Jacob Zuma.
“After due consideration, the NDC was satisfied that the utterances constituted a very serious violation of the ANC constitution,” Hanekom said.
“The NDC also took cognisance of the fact that the said utterances received widespread print and electronic media coverage.”
Malema launched a scathing attack on Zuma while addressing a gathering at Wits University in Johannesburg on Friday. He hurled a string of denigrating utterances at Zuma, including a claim that democracy in the country was being replaced by dictatorship under Zuma’s administration.
According to Hanekom, NDC members who participated in the decision to institute disciplinary action against Malema would have to recuse themselves and they would not adjudicate or take part in the pending disciplinary action against him. This was in keeping with the principle and spirit of natural justice and to remove any perception of bias.
Malema was previously expelled from the ANC for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing divisions in its ranks. He has since appealed the decision. The latest sanction has immediately clipped Malema’s political wings, thus casting him into obscurity pending the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing.
It also means Malema shot himself in the foot by attacking Zuma, and the ANC, seemingly fed up with his sporadic tirades against its leadership, had no alternative but to cast him into the political wilderness.
Asked to clarify the latest suspension, ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said the suspension was meant to give the NDC a chance to investigate charges against Malema. The investigation would determine the need for disciplinary action.
“If the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal upholds the decision of the NDC to expel Malema, he will cease to be an ANC member. This means any processes of the latest suspension will be stopped,” Khoza said.
Political analyst Zamikhaya Maseti described Malema’s suspension as the ANC’s strategy to deny the controversial leader access to ANC events and gatherings. “How do you suspend someone who has already been expelled?” he asked.
“It’s to make sure that he does not make further public statement to harm the image of the ANC and that of Jacob Zuma.”
Another analyst, Paul Graham of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, said there was a collision course between Malema and his lawyers in terms of fighting for him to remain in the ANC.
“Malema’s lawyers are contesting his dismissal through legal channels, while he is fighting at a political level,” said Graham.
Most political parties were reluctant to comment on the suspension, saying it was an internal matter of the ANC.
Mudini Maivha, spokesperson for the Pan Africanist Congress, said: “It’s a matter of principle that the PAC does not interfere in the internal politics of other parties.” DA youth leader Makashule Gana cited political interference as the reason for their silence on the matter.
Several attempts to get comment from the ANCYL were not successful.