Juju comeback plan is hatched
Julius Malema's hopes of making a political comeback have been boosted by the ANC Youth League's dramatic suspension of a key opponent of its expelled president.
Pule Mabe, the league's treasurer-general, got the boot on Saturday for allegedly misusing funds. This sparked an altercation at a meeting of the league's national executive committee and metro police were called in.
Mabe, a member of the anti-Malema faction in the divided youth league, has reportedly been campaigning behind the scenes to succeed him as president. His supporters claimed that the proceedings that culminated in Mabe's suspension were irregular.
The frontrunner for the top job is the league's deputy president, Ronald Lamola, a staunch Malema supporter, who is acting as president.
The league is expected to announce Mabe's suspension formally today and to set a date for an urgent meeting of its national general council. The meeting is expected to decide whether to try to save Malema through a ''political solution'' or to draw up guidelines for a process to elect his successor.
The Times understands that the Malema faction's strategy is to get the league top brass to ask the ANC executive to put his expulsion and suspension on the agenda for the party's policy conference in Midrand next month.
The league - which has refused to recognise Malema's expulsion - has been campaigning to have President Jacob Zuma replaced as ANC president by his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December.
"They want the Malema [disciplinary] issue to be raised [at the policy conference]," said a source yesterday. "They continue to defy the ruling [on Malema of the disciplinary committee] because they are of the view that the disciplinary committee is a structure of the ANC, and that the [league's] leaders can be removed only by a structure that elected them to power.
"So the intention is to approach the ANC national executive committee to intervene, and we will propose a motion to have this issue [Malema's expulsion] included on the [policy conference] agenda."
With Mabe suspended, Malema's faction, under Lamola, will have the edge when the league convenes its national general council meeting.
The source said a league resolution to have Malema's situation discussed at the ANC policy conference would be a significant victory for him.
"The ANC branches could make a recommendation for the elective conference in Mangaung to review the sentences," he added.
Insiders who were at the league's executive committee meeting at Johannesburg's Reef Hotel at the weekend said it was a "blood for blood" session - from which Mabe was removed.
An SMS circulated yesterday by a league executive member revealed that Malema's allies at the meeting had tried to vote that Mabe be suspended but failed because they were outnumbered.
They are then said to have departed from normal procedure by asking ex officio members of the league - provincial chairmen and secretaries - to vote.
This, according to insiders, might be a contravention of the league's constitution.
As a result, 15 officials who were opposed to Mabe's suspension, realising they would be outnumbered, abstained from voting.
The rest voted for Mabe to be suspended.
"He . refused to go and there were exchanges and near blows. [The Johannesburg] metro police had to be called in," the SMS read.
Metro police spokesman Wayne Minnaar could not confirm this yesterday.
League spokesman Magdalene Moonsamy refused to comment, and said all executive committee matters would be dealt with at a press conference this morning.
The ANC's national disciplinary committee expelled Malema for bringing the party into disrepute and for sowing division with his remark that the league would organise opposition parties in Botswana to help them overthrow President Ian Khama.
Malema's appeal against the expulsion was dismissed last month.
Two of his lieutenants, league spokesman Floyd Shivambu and secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, have been given lengthy suspensions.
The ANC disciplinary committee also summarily suspended Malema after he called Zuma a dictator during a public lecture last month.