JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress yesterday charged controversial youth leader Julius Malema with “sowing divisions” in its ranks and bringing the party into disrepute.
If Malema, president of the ANC Youth League, is found guilty by a disciplinary committee he could be suspended from the party because he was found guilty of a similar offence last year.
Malema has come under fire over the youth wing’s calls for the overthrow of the democratically elected government of neighbouring Botswana.
“Comrade Julius Malema has been charged with various violations of the ANC Constitution, including bringing the ANC into disrepute through his utterances and statements on Botswana and sowing divisions in the ranks of the African National Congress,” the party said in a statement.
The ANC fined Malema 10,000 rand ($1,388) and ordered him to attend anger management classes in May last year after he was found guilty of contravening the party constitution through comments that undermined President Jacob Zuma.
A disciplinary committee further ruled that if he was found guilty of dividing the party again within two years, his party membership would be suspended.
Neither Malema or the ANC Youth League was immediately available for comment.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath. Julius Malema has taken several bullets in the past and he seems to have survived,” said independent political analyst Nic Borain.
Malema’s repeated calls to nationalise mines and seize white-owned land has unnerved investors but he is a hero to many poor blacks who see him as a future president. He has no direct policy-making power but his ability to influence millions of poor puts him in an influential position. Senior figures including President Jacob Zuma want his support ahead of a meeting next year to elect party leaders.
Malema, 30, has also come under pressure from reports over his finances. South African media said yesterday that a top corruption buster planned an investigation into the awarding of government contracts to a firm linked to him.