Now, this should be intriguing. All that stuff about listening to the Youth League is behind us, and its leader will not definitely be explaining his conduct to the mother ship. Or maybe not. Either ways, this is going to be very interesting indeed.
Derek Hanekom, the man who finds himself in the middle of the mess after the top three asked him to chair the disciplinary committee, has confirmed there will be a hearing on 3 May. In other words, Zuma is still in charge – despite a big push by Malema – and won’t go down in history as the man who gave in to the young upstart.
Because, we still haven’t heard Zuma’s final decision on that submission from the ANC Youth League to drop the charges against Malema. Technically, he could find a way out of all of this, without having to test his strength against Malema in a way that really counts.
But let’s look at the rules.
Hanekom is the chair, he says how the process works, and he’s pointed out that there is complete independence in his role. Luthuli House decides on the formal charges and chooses a “presenter” who puts those charges to Malema, a prosecutor in all but name. We’re yet to find out who’s getting that fun job.
Malema will be allowed a lawyer, who must be a member of the ANC in “good standing”. That means someone who’s fully paid up, goes to branch meetings, and so on. That shouldn’t be a problem. Just off the top of our heads, Ngaoko Ramatlhodi, Jeff Radebe and Mathews Phosa all fit the bill. We’re not going to take bets on who it would be, but Malema might like to get a heavy hitter involved, and he wants to avoid asking somebody who says no, and then leaks the story. We’d recommend Dali Mpofu. However, anyone who thinks they have a long-term future at the top of the party would be foolish to get involved in this fight. If you’re on the losing side, you’d end up well and truly out of there. If you win, you still make new enemies.
Our advice to our favourite young lion would be to stick to the guy who’s been with him for a while. If Tumi Mokoena is in good enough standing, he has the singular advantage of already knowing all of Malema’s secrets.
A word on Hanekom. We had a brief conversation with him on Thursday morning, and we’re pretty impressed. Quick off his feet, and up-front about what he will talk about – and what he won’t. Also a clear thinker, which is a skill he’s going to need.
Hanekom is clear on the importance of his committee remaining completely neutral. Often in politics, if you know who’s in charge of the process, you know the outcome. And by putting someone neutral in charge of judging Malema, of all people, Zuma may have worked out the outcome already.
But that’s the process, legally speaking. As always in our politics, particularly involving the ANC, it’s not about the law. It’s about the politics, and who is politically stronger. So while this process is now under way, we still don’t know if Zuma has the stomach to keep it going.
By Stephen Grootes
(Grootes is an Eyewitness news reporter)