Juju double blow
Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has suffered two major blows - his appeal against his suspension from the ruling party has been thrown out and many of his comrades have dumped him.
The ANC's national disciplinary committee of appeals rejected Malema's argument that his recent suspension was against the rules of natural justice and had breached the ANC's and the nation' s constitution.
The committee said the temporary suspension had been necessary and "the least invasive action available to the national disciplinary committee to protect the interest of the ANC".
Malema was suspended again two weeks ago after calling President Jacob Zuma a dictator.
In his appeal, Malema had likened his suspension to a "banning order" under the apartheid era.
But the appeals committee, headed by ANC national executive committee member Cyril Ramaphosa, rejected all his arguments.
It said Malema's claim that the disciplinary committee could not act as both complainant and adjudicator in the case was baseless because the members who decided on the suspension recused themselves from the subsequent disciplinary hearing.
"It is established law that the rule against bias only affects the individual members who are part of a structure and not the structure itself," the committee said.
It said it was "premature" for Malema to claim that the committee would be biased against him.
Also rejected were Malema's contentions that the ANC's constitution did not give the committee the power to impose conditions on his suspension, and that he should have been allowed to give reasons why he should not be suspended.
"It was permissible for the disciplinary committee to suspend all the normal privileges available to an ANC member, such as attending and addressing meetings of the ANC in any capacity, and commenting on ANC matters, during the applicant's period of suspension," said the ruling.
Ramaphosa's committee said that, before deciding to suspend Malema, the disciplinary committee took into consideration that Malema was at that time appealing an expulsion in an unrelated case and that his "dictator" comments were a serious breach of the ANC's constitution.
The circumstances warranted immediate action, the committee said.
"Based on the past conduct of the applicant, the national disciplinary committee, in its discretion, concluded that, in all likelihood, the applicant would continue to make public utterances which would or could bring the ANC into disrepute, and that the anticipated future conduct of the applicant constituted an exceptional circumstance which warranted an immediate decision of temporary suspension without eliciting comment or representations from the applicant."
The committee disputed Malema's assertion that his suspension was a violation of his right to freedom of speech.
The gagging of Malema was limited to ANC platforms.
Though the constitution protects citizens' right to political association and affiliation, the ANC was a voluntary organisation that reserved the right to decide whom it admitted or rejected as a member, said the appeals committee.
With this ruling, Malema is barred from attending and addressing any meeting or event under the auspices of the ANC or its leagues.
The ruling came a day after members of the ANC Youth League's national executive committee publicly clashed over Malema's future and the utterances of league spokesman Floyd Shivambu.
League deputy president Ronald Lamola distanced the league from Shivambu, saying that the latter's attack on Ramaphosa, in an article published at the weekend, was his personal view.
"We agree with the ANC that the attack on Ramaphosa's personal integrity and standing in society was unwarranted and did nothing to advance a comradely political debate," said Lamola.
He chastised the league's second spokesman, Magdalene Moonsamy, for issuing a statement earlier in support of Shivambu.
Lamola and another national executive committee member, Mduduzi Manana, have also rejected a statement by Malema's ally, league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, who said that the league executive would defy the mother body and reinstate the suspended Malema.
The two said the executive ordered Magaqa to meet his ANC counterpart, Gwede Mantashe, to "get clarity" on the suspension.
Ramaphosa's committee is expected to announce its decision on Malema's original appeal against his expulsion from the ANC later this week.