Final nail in Julius Malema’s political coffin?
THIS is the final nail in Julius Malema’s political coffin, at least for his career within South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
By confirming the expulsion of the firebrand youth leader for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing divisions within its ranks, the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal has sent a clear and emphatic message that “there’s no-one who can be bigger than the party itself”.
In principle, he can approach the party’s National Executive Committee and ask it to review the process and if he fails there, go to the party’s leadership conference later in the year - but as the disciplinary committee is appointed by the NEC to represent the leadership in such matters, it seems pointless.
It is very hard to see how the 31 year old can come back from this knock-out blow.
Without the party machinery, Mr Malema will be diminished to a small political player. He will be weak and irrelevant to the major decision-makers of the most powerful economy on the African continent.
Even if he tries to resurrect himself outside the ANC, he will face an uphill battle.The ANC once expelled one of its prominent leaders Bantu Holomisa and he started his own political party. He is now an MP but his United Democratic Movement is supported by fewer than 1% of voters nationwide.
Political analyst Prof Sipho Seepe says Mr Malema’s expulsion means that “for now there’ll be widespread sympathetic support for him but in the long term that support will disappear”.
Mr Malema is also facing a massive investigation into his financial affairs by powerful anti-corruption government agencies. Just this week, South Africa’s City Press newspaper reported that he was slapped with a 10m rand (£800,000; $1.3m) tax bill by the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
This means that Mr Malema’s expulsion from his “family” - as he put it - is just the beginning of his woes.The corruption investigations are very likely to drag him to court.
He will have to explain how he - a young man from a humble background in rural Limpopo province - managed to acquire so much wealth in such a short space of time, including a 3.6m-rand house in a posh suburb of Sandton, particularly since until now he had been earning a meagre Youth League salary of about 20,000 rand a month.
His expulsion came as a result of his public statement that he had supported “regime change” in neighbouring Botswana. Mr Malema has argued that he was also kicked out because he is campaigning for the nationalisation of mines and wants the expropriation of land without compensation.
Recently he also said: “It is under President [Jacob] Zuma that we have seen the youth of the ANC being traumatised, being expelled from their own home. It is under President Zuma we have seen a critical voice being suppressed. “We have seen under President Zuma, democracy being replaced with dictatorship.”
The Malema drama comes as the ANC celebrates its centenary - and underlies the fact that the party of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many other anti-apartheid heroes is facing its deepest divisions since 1994.
Some blame the current woes on the party conference in 2007 which swept Mr Zuma to the presidency of Africa’s oldest liberation movement. It was then that Mr Zuma mounted a hurricane of an attack against Thabo Mbeki, the country’s president at the time and Mr Zuma’s old comrade.
He campaigned vigorously and in the end Mr Mbeki was forced to resign in September 2008. Though he has since changed his tune, now saying he wants President Zuma to be replaced Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
But what does this all mean for the ordinary people of South Africa?
The ANC is recognised all over the world for helping to end the evil system of apartheid. But now its image is tarnished by the infighting. This is being watched with glee by supporters of the former white-minority government - Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid, must be smiling from the grave.
On the main news bulletins every night, South Africans are constantly bombarded by ANC faction fights. Apartheid is gone, South Africa is free, but those who fought racial discrimination are turning on each other. It must be disappointing for those who spent long periods in jail fighting apartheid. As for Mr Malema’s future, the young lion from Limpopo will roar no more within the cages of his political home, the ANC.
Profile: Julius Malema
IN his short but stellar political career, South Africa’s Julius Malema - the expelled leader of the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) youth wing - has rarely been away from the limelight.
Mr Malema, 31, acquired the reputation of being a power broker in the party, playing a key role in President Jacob Zuma’s ascent to power in the 2009 election.
He has repeatedly offended large sections of society - from women’s rights groups, to white farmers, to his own political bosses - and has often been accused of racism, sexism and hypocrisy.
His most strident critics see him as a dangerous rabble-rouser whose psuedo-communist rhetoric and inflammatory statements are designed to generate newspaper headlines. But to his many thousands of supporters, he is an inspirational orator whose aggressive focus on the rights of poor black South Africans makes him the rightful heir to the soul of the ANC - and the leadership of the country.
Born in 1981, Mr Malema was raised by his mother Flora, a domestic worker, in Seshego township in the northern Limpopo Province.
He says he joined the ANC’s so-called Young Pioneers group at the age of nine, and was later trained in armed resistance in the years after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. He learned how to make petrol bombs and put together firearms, according to reports.
His rise through the political ranks was rapid, becoming regional head of the Youth League at the age of 14 and gaining a foothold in the student movement, before eventually becoming national leader of the Congress of South African Students in 2001.
It was his election as ANC Youth League leader in 2008 that made him a key player in national politics.His earliest actions as leader were to noisily campaign for Mr Zuma to take over - first as ANC leader and later as president - telling a crowd of supporters that he would “kill for Zuma”.
It was his close relationship with Mr Zuma that landed him in court for the first time when he suggested that a woman who accused Mr Zuma of rape had had a “nice time” because she had “requested breakfast and taxi money”. He was eventually found guilty of hate speech over the incident. Mr Zuma was acquitted of rape.
But Mr Malema’s relationship with Mr Zuma has soured in recent years. He has been hauled before party disciplinary committees on two occasions. First he was fined and ordered to undergo anger management, and later expelled for bringing the party into disrepute.
He made international headlines in early 2010 when he sang an apartheid-era protest song that features the words “shoot the Boer [white farmer]”. In 2011, a court ruled that the song amounted to hate speech - a decision that Mr Malema rejected.
He said it showed that apartheid-era judges still wield enormous influence in South Africa, and the government needed to speed up the transformation of the judiciary.
After a tumultuous first term in office at the youth league - when he argued for radical policies such as the nationalisation of mines and the seizure of white-owned farms - he was re-elected for a second term in June 2011.
His supporters still adore him and he is proving he has lost none of his ability to stir up controversy.
Earlier this year he called for regime change, through “democratic means”, in Botswana, calling it a “puppet” of the US and a danger to the rest of Africa. He apologised, but the speech landed him in front of another ANC disciplinary hearing.
After Mr Malema and his colleagues stormed a meeting of ANC leaders chaired by Mr Zuma, additional charges of breach of discipline were brought against him.
After months of legal and political wrangling, the ANC disciplinary committee finally suspended Mr Malema for five years for bringing the ANC into disrepute. He appealed, but, instead of being handed a lighter sentence, the committee ruled to expel him.