South Africa’s African National Congress expelled youth leader Julius Malema, ending his political ambitions within the ruling party and strengthening those of President Jacob Zuma.
Malema, who has 14 days to appeal his sanction, showed no remorse for actions that led the ANC to find him guilty of undermining the party, sowing division and breaking its rules, the ANC’s national disciplinary committee said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
His exclusion may help Zuma win a second term as party leader in December as it sidelines one of the president’s biggest critics. The ANC Youth League has dropped its support for Zuma after helping him oust Thabo Mbeki as ANC leader in 2007. Zuma has failed to back Malema’s push for the ANC to adopt a policy of nationalizing mines in a country that’s the largest producer of platinum, manganese and chrome.
“Outside of the ANC is the wilderness,” Nic Borain, an independent political analyst in Cape Town, said in a telephone interview. “This has strengthened Zuma. Julius Malema is out of the picture for a while.”
The Youth League will convene a meeting of its leadership on March 4 and will hold a press briefing the next day, it said in an e-mailed statement today.
The disciplinary committee said it gave Malema a harsher sentence than an initial five-year suspension from the ANC because he didn’t respect the party’s disciplinary rules. Malema was charged by the ANC last year after he called for the ousting of the government in neighboring Botswana, the second time within two years that he faced ANC sanctions.
“We must accept that this is the decision but that is not the end of the road,” Malema said in comments broadcast on Johannesburg-based state-owned radio station SAfm today. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I am persecuted for speaking on behalf of the ANC Youth League.”
Shots were fired outside Malema’s home in Seshego in the Limpopo province and two groups of people threw stones at each other after the verdict, the South African Press Association reported, citing police.
“We also thank members of the ANC and the ANC YL who went to defend the house of ANC YL President Julius Malema from rascals in Seshego,” the league said in today’s statement.
The ANC will investigate the violence and appealed for calm, Keith Khoza, a spokesman for the party, said in an interview on SAfm.
“Malema is a repeat offender,” the ANC’s disciplinary committee said. He has “shown no remorse, is not prepared to be disciplined by the ANC and is not prepared to respect the disciplinary machinery of the organization.”
Malema said on Feb. 10 the decision to eject him from the ANC is motivated by some party leaders opposed to his call to nationalize mines in a country where Anglo American Plc (AAL), BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Rio Tinto Group have operations. Speaking to Youth League members in Pretoria that day, Malema again pledged support for opposition groups in Botswana and criticized South Africa’s foreign policy.
“This has been a well-orchestrated way of neutralizing him,” Eusebius McKaiser, a lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand, said in an interview with Johannesburg-based eNews channel yesterday. “It’s been well thought out.”
Expulsion from the ANC has crippled the political career of others. Bantu Holomisa, a deputy minister and ANC national executive committee member, was ejected from the party in 1996 for accusing a colleague of corruption. The United Democratic Movement he then formed won 0.9 percent of the vote in the last general election in 2009.
The Youth League has called for talks with the ANC to resolve what it says are political differences. The group has also rejected the ANC’s right to fire its president.
Sindiso Magaqa, secretary-general of the ANC Youth League, and Floyd Shivambu, its spokesman, were suspended from the ANC for three years, according to the committee. Malema’s expulsion can be overturned by the ANC’s national executive committee, the party’s top decision-making body, or at the December conference where party members will vote for a new leadership.
The rand rose 0.3 percent to 7.4761 to the dollar as of 2:34 p.m. in Johannesburg.
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