Malema off the hook as Zuma makes U-turn

20 April 2010 - 02:05 By SIPHO MASONDO

The ANC is set to drop all disciplinary charges against Julius Malema following a sudden change of heart by President Jacob Zuma.

According to ruling party insiders, Zuma and other top ANC leaders decided to withdraw the charges against Malema following a lengthy meeting with the youth league.

Although the meeting was initially supposed to be attended by all six ANC officials, treasurer-general Mathews Phosa did not pitch up while secretary-general Gwede Mantashe left early to attend one of his children's graduation ceremony.

With only Zuma, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise and national chairwoman Baleka Mbete representing the ANC, the youth league leadership had its way.

It is understood that the youth league argued that the ANC had no right to charge Malema as he spoke on behalf of the league and that if disciplinary action needed to be taken, it should be against the youth wing as a whole.

Modise is expected to make public the controversial decision at a press conference today.

Although the ANC and its youth wing were mum last night following the tense meeting, various sources close to the league said Malema had been let off the hook.

"To summarise everything for you," said a senior youth league leader who did not want to be named, "Julius is very powerful".

Another youth league leader, who also did not want to be named, said this morning's announcement will still be subject to ratification by the ANC's national executive committee which is to meet next month.

Zuma and the ANC had initially pushed for disciplinary action against Malema following a number of embarrassing public pronouncements and actions.

The party last week served Malema with a charge sheet accusing him of:

  • Bringing the party into disrepute by endorsing Zimbabwea President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF at a time when Zuma was trying to broker a deal in that country;
  • Allegedly claiming that Zuma was worse then former president Thabo Mbeki in his dealing with the youth league;
  • Commenting on the killing of AWB leader Eugene Terre Blanche after the ANC had ordered its members to refrain from doing so; and
  • Calling a BBC journalist a "bastard" and a "bloody agent".

But The Times understands that while Motlanthe insisted that the disciplinary hearing - scheduled for early next month - should go ahead, Zuma caved in under Malema's pressure.

Apparently Malema's supporters pointed out that the youth league leader had gone to Zimbabwe with the president's blessing and that he cannot, therefore, be charged for his actions.

The youth league also reportedly capitalised on the support it had given Zuma when he came under fire for fathering a child out of wedlock with soccer boss Irvin Khoza's daughter.

An ANC staffer at Luthuli House told The Times last night that Malema will be exonerated.

Another youth leader said Malema's victory was temporary as the NEC will make the final determination. - Additional reporting by Dominic Mahlangu