Anger management classes, a political re-education, a minor public humiliation and R10,000. That's what Julius Malema's skirmish with party discipline is going to cost him. And if you told him he got off lightly, he'll probably agree. Those were the terms of the plea-bargain he signed up for, after all. But we're thinking Jacob Zuma can be satisfied with the outcome.
To be honest, we were expecting a night of unverified leaks, half-truths and spin. Instead the ANC disciplinary committee hearing the matter of Julius Malema vs Jacob Zuma (and the reputation of the ANC) issued a complete statement just before 8:30pm on Tuesday.
Here is what we learned. The disciplinary committee has completed its work, because Malema entered into a plea-bargain, which made everything go nice and quick. In terms of the deal, three of the charges against him were dropped, and he admitted guilt on the fourth, the one of “contravening Rule 25.5.(i) of the Constitution of the African National Congress by behaving in such a way as to provoke serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organization”. That was the important one, for a man who claims to be a loyal and disciplined member of his organisation, the one that accused him of sowing division in the ranks.
For that crime, Malema will have to:
- Pay R10,000 to a youth development project of his choice
- Spend 20 days out of the next year in the ANC’s political school
- Attend some anger-management and communication classes
- Make a public apology
For Zuma (and, arguably the party as a whole) it is that apology that is important. Here it is in full:
I, Julius Malema, apologise to the President of the ANC and the Republic, comrade Jacob Zuma and to the membership of the African National Congress and the public in general for the statements and utterances that I made on 11 April 2010 at the ANC Youth League Limpopo Provincial Congress implying that the ANC Youth League has taken a position against the President of the ANC.
I accept that these statements had the effect of undermining the stature of the President of the African National Congress and of the Republic. It further may have had the effect of undermining the confidence of our people in the leadership of the ANC and of creating serious divisions and breakdown of unity in the organization.
I make this apology unconditionally as I accept that as a leader of the ANC and of the ANC Youth League my conduct and public utterances should at all times reflect respect and restraint.
I accept one of the key principles of Congress leadership as outlined in Through the Eye of the Needle, a policy document adopted by the 51st and 52nd National Conferences of the ANC, that “an abiding quality of leadership is to learn from mistakes, to appreciate weaknesses and to correct them.”
I have learned from this mistake and therefore submit myself to the discipline of the ANC.
We figure it will be pretty hard to misread that as a victory for Malema, or a weakening of Zuma’s power.
The scoreline: Zuma 3, Malema 1. The game may be over, but the tournament continues.
By Phillip de Wet
Photo: Julius Malema, leader of the African National Congress’s Youth League (ANCYL), speaks to the media at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg April 8, 2010. REUTERS/Peter Andrews