(Updates with comment from analyst in sixth paragraph.)
Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Julius Malema, leader of the youth wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, lost an appeal against charges of bringing the party into disrepute and sowing discord, undermining his political ambitions.
“Discipline is one of the key pillars in the life of ANC,” Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the party’s appeals panel, told reporters in Johannesburg today. Malema’s appeal against two charges of violating the ANC’s constitution “is dismissed.”
Malema, 30, was cast out of the ANC for five years on Nov. 10, after a disciplinary committee found he flouted party rules when he criticized its leadership and contradicted policies. The committee also suspended the youth league’s spokesman, Floyd Shivambu, from the party for three years, and handed suspended sentences to four other league officials, on related charges that were upheld by the appeal panel.
The six men may argue for their sentences to be reduced because they had not been given the opportunity to present mitigating arguments, Ramaphosa said. The disciplinary panel, which must hear their case within 14 days, may decide to impose even harsher sentences, he said.
The suspension from the party takes immediate effect, said Keith Khoza, spokesman for the ANC, by phone today. Malema had retained his membership while the appeals panel reviewed the disciplinary ruling.
The panel overruled a finding that league officials had purposefully disrupted a meeting where President Jacob Zuma was present. It dismissed the youth league’s claims that the disciplinary proceedings were procedurally flawed and that the officials who oversaw them were biased.
“Substantively Malema is still the loser,” Aubrey Matshiqi, a political analyst at the Helen Suzman Foundation in Johannesburg, said in a phone interview. “The verdict against him has not changed.”
The youth leader, who has publicly ridiculed Zuma, has lobbied the ANC to adopt a policy of nationalizing mines in Africa’s biggest economy. Chief executives of the largest companies operating in South Africa, including Anglo American Plc and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., have warned the policy threat may deter investment.
The league, which helped Zuma oust Thabo Mbeki as ANC leader in 2007, successfully pressured the ruling party to study the viability of nationalization. In October last year, he led thousands of young supporters on a 62-kilometer (39-mile) march between Johannesburg and Pretoria, calling for nationalization and jobs. A quarter of South Africa’s workforce is unemployed.
--With assistance from Franz Wild in Johannesburg. Editors: Nasreen Seria, Emily Bowers, Sara Marley
To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at firstname.lastname@example.org; Stephen Gunnion in Johannesburg at email@example.com
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