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Views : ANC must tread carefully with Malema charges

In deciding to charge ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, the ANC has steered itself into a catch-22 situation.

If Malema is cleared of the disciplinary charges, he will emerge stronger than before, having already embarked on a campaign to portray himself as a victim of those waging succession battles within the ANC.

This stems from the league's vocal support for former league president Fikile Mbalula, now the deputy police minister, to take over from ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who is also the SA Communist Party chairman.

If Malema is found guilty, the ANC would have to decide on a suitable punishment.
The party's constitution says penalties could include "reprimand, payment of compensation and/or the performance of useful tasks, remedial action, and suspension of membership or expulsion from the ANC".

Some commentators are calling for the ultimate penalty - expulsion from the ruling party - saying this would prove once and for all that President Jacob Zuma is firmly in charge, having reprimanded Malema for his behaviour.

Expulsion would mean Malema losing his position as president of the youth league, but this could spark a backlash, with ramifications for both the youth league and the ANC.

Such a drastic move could seriously divide the mother body, especially as there are those who are counting on Malema for the youth league's support at the ANC's 2012 national elective conference.

The national working committee, for example, includes influential Malema backers such as Siphiwe Nyanda, Fikile Mbalula and Tony Yengeni. The anti-Malema lobby, led by Blade Nzimande, includes Collins Chabane, Nathi Mthethwa and possibly also Angie Motshekga.

Only a day after Zuma's reprimand a fortnight ago, and again at a rally in Colesberg at the weekend, Malema reminded Zuma of his indebtedness to the youth league. Under Mbalula's leadership, it considered itself the kingmaker in the bitter struggle between Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki for the ANC presidency in 2007.

The league also stood by Zuma during his legal travails, kicking up a lot of dust with statements by Malema such as "We will kill for Zuma".

The implication is that the league made Zuma and thus could also break him, if it so wished.

Youth league leaders in almost all provinces have voiced support for the firebrand Malema, but it is not clear whether this support carries all the way through to branches on the ground.

The ANC finds itself in a political quicksand of sorts, and will need the wisdom of Solomon to get out of this quandary.

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Tags: Malema   ANC  

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