Politics

ANC Youth League: Malema’s punishment will be carried collectively, and ANC discipline sucks

By Branko Brkic 13 May 2010

The ANC youth League says it will ask members to help pay Julius Malema’s R10,000 fine, and its national executive committee will also sit in on all of the classes he will be forced to attend. And then it will start a campaign to lift his effective probation.

Although Julius Malema was one flimsy wall and about 50 metres away, he didn’t speak to the media on Thursday in Muldersdrift. Instead, secretary-general Vuyiswa Tulelo, an increasingly familiar face, led the explanation on how the Youth League does/doesn’t/mostly/not at all/completely accepts the disciplinary process to which its president was subjected by the ANC. Which may be significant in itself.

Frankly, the Youth League seems either unable to make up its mind about whether it accepts Malema’s ANC sentence, or it just doesn’t have the guts to openly take on the ANC proper. It is, however, clear on one point: the ANC may have disciplined Malema as an individual, but “everything that has been around these charges he has done in his position as president of the Youth League,” Tulelo said.

Which is why the collective, rather than the individual, will suffer the consequences. The League says it will open a special bank account and solicit donations to pay Malema’s fine, which he is supposed to donate to a youth development project of his choice. (And it intends keeping the details of that account, as well as the amount raised, a secret.) In addition, the entire national executive council has pledged to attend the anger management classes and political school hours that were part of Malema’s sentence. Those classes are a good idea anyway, it implied, so why the hell not?

But perhaps most significant is that the League says it will challenge the ANC on the procedures it used in prosecuting Malema. Not because it is unhappy with the outcome, you understand. But, you know, if those procedures should happen to be found to have been faulty, and Malema is therefore taken off probation, well, that would be a startling coincidence, wouldn’t it?

Which could turn out to be hugely significant. In effect Malema is living with a sword over his head for the next two years, with the possibility of being suspended from the ANC proper if he is found to be sowing disunity in any way.

Photo: ANC Youth League Secretary-General Vuyiswa Tulelo

The Youth League also intends opening up a second front, a push to reinforce its autonomy. “… we will embark on a mass political education campaign to educate members of the Youth League and leaders of the ANC on the autonomy of the ANC Youth League,” it said in a statement on its official decisions.

Does the League think it can salvage something from the ashes, and perhaps buy itself (and Malema) more leeway in future? It is certainly trying to portray itself as coming from a position of strength. The Youth League has a responsibility to correct errors in ANC disciplinary proceedings, Tulelo said, because soon the League will inherit the ANC proper, and it doesn’t want to be stuck with faulty rules that “can be changed on the whim of an individual”. But at the same time, she says, the League wouldn’t want to remove the ability of the ANC to discipline it.

Malema wasn’t at the media conference, but in the end his star power was just too much. Resigned Youth League officials fell before a tide of cameramen like ill-built sandcastles before a killer tsunami, and the room where Malema was sitting was invaded for an impromptu photo opportunity. He didn’t answer questions. He didn’t flinch. He just grinned.

By Phillip de Wet

Photos: The Daily Maverick

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