S.Africa’s ANC suspends Malema for five years

JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) – South Africa’s ruling  African National Congress kicked its firebrand Youth League  leader, Julius Malema, out of the party for five years today after finding him guilty of sowing division.
The decision dealt a major blow to the political career of  the controversial Malema and his push to nationalise mines in  the world’s biggest platinum producer.
South African stocks extended gains after news of the  suspension of Malema, 30, who has unnerved investors with his  drive to nationalise mines. The rand also firmed  slightly after the announcement.
Derek Hanekom, head of the ANC disciplinary panel, said  Malema had been found guilty of sowing serious divisions in the  party and of bringing the 99-year-old liberation movement into  disrepute.
“Ill-discipline is not a cure for frustration,” Hanekom said  at a news conference.
The party said Malema had the right to appeal to the ANC  disciplinary body and any appeal had to be lodged within 14  days. He can also appeal the outcome to the ANC’s National  Executive Committee — headed by President Jacob Zuma.
Suspension of Malema should help pave the way for Zuma to  secure a second term as ANC leader — and hence the country’s  president — at a party conference in a year.
“Given that Malema was seen as an important point-person for  political factions within the ANC that have been looking to  insert a more radical set of policies around land reform and  state intervention in the mining sector … it is likely to be  viewed as an important strengthening of President Zuma,” said  ABSA Capital Chief Economist Jeff Gable.
But the unexpectedly harsh sentence imposed on Malema, a  significant power broker in the ANC, could backfire for Zuma.
“Will the sentence provoke a backlash, attempting to build  opposition by portraying Malema as a victim? It is obviously  possibility,” said independent political analyst Nic Borain.
“But most observers are hoping that the grave tones and  thorough approach of the ANC Disciplinary Committee might  presage a process of repair and renewal in the ruling party.”
ANC insiders say Malema is part of a plot to replace Zuma  with a leader more sympathetic to the Youth League’s desire to  nationalise the mines and seize white-owned farms for  redistribution to landless blacks.
Malema was writing a university exam today and was not  immediately available for comment.

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