Malema verdict divides ANCYL
THE ANC Youth League has been thrown into disarray after the guilty verdict against its president, Julius Malema, was confirmed. Some provinces are lobbying for early leadership elections.
The ANC's disciplinary committee of appeals' decision to uphold an October 2011 guilty ruling against Malema has not only exposed divisions within provincial structures of the league, but has also reopened the succession debate.
In his verdict, Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the committee, found Malema, his secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and spokesman Floyd Shivambu guilty of ill-discipline, bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions within the party.
The other three youth league leaders - deputy president Ronald Lamola, deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer Pule Mabe - had their suspended sentences overturned after they were accused of having "barged" into an ANC leaders' meeting.
While the Eastern Cape and Western Cape have pledged their support for Malema, other provinces are divided, with some warning that his time is up.
In Gauteng, members have started discussing "leadership options", saying that waiting until the Mangaung elective conference would be "suicidal" for the league.
KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo have seen a surge in anti-Malema sentiment and ANCYL members say the "discontent" is spreading.
The deputy secretary-general of the ANCYL in KwaZulu-Natal, Siboniso Duma, said: "The ANC is the oldest and wisest political organisation. It fired the likes of (Tennyson) Makiwane and Bantu Holomisa, and it will continue to take such decisions no matter how painful they are."
The verdict, said Duma, will remind ANC members many generations down the line that "no one is above the ANC".
Duma would however not be drawn on who should take over from Malema. "We think it is premature to announce that, but there are many capable people in the provinces. For now Ronald Lamola should step in as the deputy."
Procedurally, he said the ANCYL should disband and that a special congress should be called to elect new leaders. The elected leaders, said Duma, will have to work overtime to unite all the structures ahead of the party's conference.
"We can't afford to go there as we are. Malema has caused serious damage to the party, it is bleeding and could do so for a long time if we are not careful."
Mpumalanga's youth league executive called for a "rethink" from the ANC regarding the problems facing the league.
The secretary of the league in the province, Clarence Maseko, said the organisation had been assaulted and "imprisoned" by its own members.
"Never had a revolutionary youth movement had to conduct its organisational autonomy under such difficult conditions. It is imprisoned," he said.
In North West, members want the league to fast-track the national general council meeting to elect a new leadership. The decision by the appeals body took centre-stage at the ANC Eastern Cape's provincial executive meeting yesterday, with the youth league saying it would not back down from fighting for Malema's reinstatement.
Said ANCYL Eastern Cape spokesman Nkosinathi Nomatiti: "We are still 100% behind Malema. We are not giving up on a political solution. We are still hopeful that the mitigating process will yield positive results."
Labelling Ramaphosa's verdict as "unfortunate", Nomatiti said its consequences would be far-reaching and could be damaging to the ANC itself. "It would be terrible if the ANCYL effectively becomes a desk of the ANC without any political autonomy. Saturday's outcome does give that perception," he said.
But two senior Eastern Cape youth league members said the province was divided over Malema, but members feared raising their objections.
Gauteng youth league provincial executive members called for a "Plan B". Provincial chairman Lebogang Maile, who last year unsuccessfully challenged Malema for the presidency, has emerged as the possible candidate.
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