The ANC has formally charged Julius Malema with bringing the organisation into disrepute.
The president of the ANC Youth League will now appear before a disciplinary hearing that will be headed by Derek Hanekom, who chairs the ANC's disciplinary committee. A date has yet to be set.
The charges cite as motivation for a disciplinary hearing:
- Bringing the ANC and government into disrepute over his remarks about Zimbabwe following his visit there. Malema endorsed the ruling Zanu-PF and attacked the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC);
- Malema's remarks that former president Thabo Mbeki never rebuked the youth league publicly when he disagreed with them, unlike President Jacob Zuma. This followed Zuma's public remarks distancing his government and the ANC from Malema's behaviour;
- His remarks again following AWB leader Eugene Terre Blanche's death that he died before changing his racist behaviour; and
- His aggressive behaviour towards a BBC journalist, calling him a "bastard" and a "bloody agent".
The decision to charge Malema was taken by ANC officials, including Zuma, after a number of public spats involving Malema and leaders of Cosatu, the SA Communist Party and the Democratic Party.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu refused to confirm that Malema had been charged. "These are matters internal in the ANC; we do things internally and is not for the media or public," he said.
An SMS, purporting to come from youth league spokesman Floyd Shivambu, informed the league's provincial structures that Malema had been charged for ill discipline by the ANC and urged them to release statements in his defence to the media.
A text message read: "ANC outgoing secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has written a letter to ANC Youth League president charging him with ill discipline for speaking on behalf of the youth league on revolutionary songs, expression of shock with the public condemnation and BBC journalist incident.
"Provinces are requested to release statements in defence of the president. Please target your local media."
Shivambu yesterday denied sending the SMS, adding he had "no knowledge" of Malema being charged.
But the Sunday Times has learnt that Malema received his charges on Wednesday from Mantashe's office.
Youth league secretary Vuyiswa Tulelo said she knew nothing about Malema's charges, but confirmed a meeting with ANC officials tomorrow. She said the discussions would centre around the league's programmes.
According to the ANC constitution the penalties Malema could face include a reprimand, payment of compensation and/or performance of useful tasks, suspension and expulsion.
According to the charge sheet, Malema's actions brought the ANC into disrepute, were a flagrant violation of the moral integrity expected of members and public representatives, and his conduct was unbecoming a member or public representative of the organisation.
Charges included promoting racism, sexism, tribal chauvinism, religious and political intolerance, regionalism or any form of discrimination, and behaving in such a way as to provoke serious divisions or a breakdown of the unity in the ANC and undermining the respect for or impeding the functioning of the structures of the organisation.
ANC insiders said the action against Malema came after several meetings with Zuma, who warned Malema to restrain himself when making public statements.
In March, the ANC's national executive committee resolved that public spats between the alliance partners should stop and that anyone stoking the flames be disciplined.
In his political overview, Zuma said the culture of publicly attacking each other would become entrenched "if we do not act against it".
"We will create an image of an organisation and country dogged by tension and infighting," Zuma said.
But Malema continued to speak out of turn, and his utterances following his visit to Zimbabwe proved to be the final straw.
In a statement, the ANC distanced itself from Malema's backing of Zanu-PF, which together with political foe the MDC is ruling Zimbabwe in a government of national unity.
It said: "The ANC together with its government would like to see all political parties in Zimbabwe (both factions of the MDC and Zanu-PF) implementing the spirit and the letter of the Global Political Agreement.
It is therefore our view that the ANCYL's expression of support for one party in Zimbabwe goes against our country's and President Zuma's mediation efforts in that country."