As much as the ANC’s spin doctors try to deny it, the issue of you-know-who’s you-know-what did arise in the recent meeting of the party’s national executive committee, but the fans of the young lion were defeated, for now. CARIEN DU PLESSIS takes a look at what really happened behind the locked gates.
The ANC is making no bones about it: the chickens are coming home to roost and the foul play by some of its leaders will have to stop.
Even as the ANC’s 90-member national executive committee (NEC) kicked themselves at their weekend meeting for letting discipline slip in the run-up to the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference in a bid to get President Jacob Zuma and themselves elected, some of their comrades grilled the party’s top six leaders about charging the man of the moment, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
The unhappy ones ended up under fire, however, as ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete repeatedly shot down requests from Malema’s supporters in the NEC to discuss the charges with a view of getting them thrown out.
“They were told to go back and read the ANC constitution again,” an NEC member who attended the meeting told iMaverick. “According to the constitution, the NEC is one of the bodies that deals with appeals, so if they discuss the charges now, it will prejudice an appeal in future.”
By all accounts of the meeting, Malema’s supporters weren’t as disorderly as they were just very, very persistent. “Every day they tried to raise the issue, and every day they were told not to,” the source said. The meeting ran over four days – from Friday to Monday – despite ANC leaders hoping they’d be off the hook in time for Sunday lunch.
In the event they remained cooped up in the conference room in St George’s Hotel in Pretoria until Monday 9pm.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at a press briefing on Tuesday confirmed that the issue came up but wasn’t discussed formally. “We gave a ruling that (Malema’s) disciplinary is not a matter for the NEC, and everyone who spoke about it were (sic) reminded this isn’t a matter for the NEC. Once things are with the national disciplinary committee, the NEC doesn’t deal with that.”
He also said the party will make some serious moves to restore discipline across its structures.
A source close to Malema’s camp, but who was not in the meeting, said he had heard that 90% of the NEC was in favour of Malema’s disciplinary hearing on Friday, but by Saturday, when news broke that the Public Protector and the Hawks were on Malema’s case too, the NEC members smelled conspiracy and their sympathies turned towards Malema.
“It was debated the whole of Saturday,” he alleged.
Another NEC member, who attended the meeting, said support for Malema within the alliance was thin.
A source also confirmed that, while the ANC has agreed to meet the League to listen to their objections to the disciplinary charges, the party was determined to press on with the charges on Tuesday.
The charges against Malema and Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu, and possibly three more League officials, relate to the League’s stated intention to effect a regime change in Botswana (this brought the ANC into disrepute, said the top six officials who pressed the charges), and sowing divisions in the ANC (if found guilty of this again, Malema will be suspended from the ANC as punishment for a previous conviction on this charge last year).
It has also come to light that the young lions will also be charged for storming into an office where the ANC’s top six, including Zuma, were to meet the League two and a half weeks ago before the ANC’s officials cancelled the meeting.
Shivambu will face an additional charge for referring to a journalist as a “white bitch”. (Disclosure: That would be this very same reporter, Carien du Plessis, who subsequently took Shivambu to the Equality Court. The matter was scheduled in April this year, where it was postponed after Shivambu came unprepared. The case is currently awaiting new court date for a directional hearing. – Ed)
It is unclear who will represent the young firebrands at their hearing this time. ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa is unlikely to repeat the favour for Malema, unless he broke ranks with the other five officials to help the young one out.
Themba Langa, who also represented Malema last time, said he wasn’t approached this time, while businessman Clifford Motsepe’s phone was off.
The ANC itself is rumoured to be contemplating heavyweights to prosecute its case, like advocate Patric Mtshaulana SC.
But Mtshaulana said despite having heard the same rumour, he wasn’t approached.
Meanwhile Malema’s lieutenants in the provinces have called meetings to mull their strategy, which will either involve marching en masse on Luthuli House next week (an “adventure” Mantashe said “the party will deal with as and when”) or roll over and play dead.
But Mantashe said the ANC wasn’t afraid of Malema. “We don’t have the Malemaphobia that everyone have (sic), so that once you say ‘Malema’, everyone must jump. We don’t have it in the ANC and we must not have it.”
The ANC might after all not be as chicken as it sometimes seems. Boring it will not be. DM
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