Bad week for South Africa’s Julius Malema

By Crystal van Wyk
Posted on Friday, 16 September 2011 11:21

The firebrand youth leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC Julius Malema got a small respite from his woes on Friday when one of the disciplinary charges brought by his party were provisionally withdrawn. However, the ANC disciplinary committee insists the charge had not been dropped all together and can be pursued at a later stage.

There were no immediate details of the nature of the withdrawn charge, but it is understood that it relates to what the party considers an attack on the integrity of the disciplinary committee itself. The disciplinary hearing against the vocal president of the ANC Youth League (ANCLY) who is accused of undermining the party resumed on Thursday in Johannesburg.

Malema faces suspension or expulsion from the party, if found guilty on a list of charges that include bringing the party into disrepute and causing divisions within its ranks.?Meanwhile, the 30-year old leader has broken his silence on the recent Equality Court judgement banning the struggle song Shoot the Boer. According to him, the judge’s’ conception of Ubuntu (humanity to others) is totally flawed and opportunistically used to reach horrible conclusions’.

He says the ANCYL had met and will continue to meet with organisations to formulate an appeal to both the Supreme Court of Appeals and Constitutional Court.?Malema is adamant that the league and its leadership “will never apologise for singing struggle songs, because that is what inspires our courage and determination to fight for total liberation”.??

The opposition, Democractic Alliance (DA) has asked for a final Constitutional Court ruling on what constitutes hate speech. DA spokesperson, Dene Smuts, says the “party thinks judge Colin Lamont’s ruling was wrong because it extended the ban to all persons in all circumstances.”

?Facing the full might of the ANC??

It has been a nightmarish month for the firebrand leader. First, the ruling ANC finally lost its patience with the league and charged Malema and five senior league officials of bringing the ruling party into disrepute and sowing divisions.?? The hearing, which started early September at the ruling party’s Luthuli House headquarters was later moved after business in the Johannesburg CBD raised concerns about the conduct of league members, who had pelted some police officers and journalists with stones. They also burned the ANC flag and t-shirts bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma.??

Malema fought back, and said “he would neither be intimidated nor silenced by the ANC and has vowed to continue to call for the nationalisation of mines and the taking of land from whites without compensation.”

Hate speech??

The second blow to Malema’s fortunes was a Johannesburg High court ruling that the struggle songDubuli iBhunu or “Kill the Boer” was hate speech.?? Judge Colin Lamont said the song “unlawfully singles out white Afrikaners and farmers as the subject of hate.”

The court interdicted everyone against singing the song and Malema was ordered to pay part of the costs of the trial.

Civil rights group Afri-forum took Malema to court arguing the words threatened minorities, Afrikaners and farmers.?? The ANC came to Malema’s defense and said it was appalled by the ruling and said the ruling flies in the face of the need to accept the past and preserve movement’s heritage.?

Bleak future???

Malema could be found guilty, suspended or even expelled from the ANC if the disciplinary hearing goes against him.?According to City Press, President Zuma’s backers are lobbying ANYL structures to pass a motion of no confidence in Malema and his colleagues. If successful, Malema could disappear from the South African political scene. Some say, however, that it is perhaps too soon to write Malema off.??

In the meantime, Julius Malema is fighting for his political life and this was no more telling at the league’s 67th birthday celebrations in mid September when he cut a lonely figure during the celebrations in Johannesburg. None of the usual ANC bigwigs, including Winnie Madikizela –Mandela were present.?He told the crowd that “the ANC will cleanse itself of corrupt leaders” at the elective conference next year.?

Whether Malema will be present to fulfill this promise remains to be seen. But for now his fortunes have been diminishing.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options