Reporter’s Notebook: Mantashe at work

By Sipho Hlongwane 6 February 2012

Ok, so we know that Julius Malema is on his way out of his position as ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president and NEC member. But when do the sanctions kick in? And who will lead the ANCYL once Malema is out? Don’t ask ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe if you want a straightforward answer. But what he does offer is never uninteresting. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

When the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeals (NDCA) upheld the guilty verdict and sanction against ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, it immediately prompted a flurry of questions, which went unanswered on the day. Since Malema had been found guilty on exactly the same charge in 2010, for which his membership was suspended – the sanction itself suspended provided he wasn’t found guilty of the same thing within two years – did this mean that he is no longer an ANC and ANCYL member?

A purely legalistic reading of the facts would indicate exactly that.

But things are never that simple with the ANC.

There are a few things to consider. It’s not entirely clear who is in charge of the disciplinary process, from A to Z. Who needs to make the final pronouncement on Malema’s fate? Is it the NDC or the NDCA? Is it the national executive committee (NEC)? And who is in charge of the process itself?

On Monday, Mantashe briefed the press on the outcomes of the first NEC meeting of 2012. He began by apologising for the fact that he wouldn’t be addressing certain questions.

Anything about Thursday’s State of the Nation address wouldn’t be humoured. Which was perfectly fine; nobody cared about that anyway. We were far more interested in Malema and the nationalisation of mines debate.

The sanctions against Malema have not been brought into effect yet. This was a political decision and not a legal one. Mantashe used the words “we” when he spoke about the decision to handle the process politically, and not legally. The disciplinary committees report back to the NEC on the decisions they make. The discussion to give Malema two more weeks would certainly have taken place at forums outside of the disciplinary committees, besides the obvious deliberations of the DCs.

Would Malema be allowed to appeal once the mitigation phase of the trial at the NDC level ended? Mantashe deferred that one to the disciplinary structures (see what we mean by confusion over who is in charge?).

The question of who will take over the ANCYL leadership will be answered by the ANCYL, Mantashe said. He wouldn’t say whether that a snap election for the position of ANCYL president would be micromanaged from Luthuli House (the chances of that not happening are slim).

On the face of it, it seems like an inefficient way of doing things. Malema was found guilty in 2010, and warned that if he did it again before 2012, he’d be turfed out the party. That’s exactly what he did. Now the ANC appears to be dithering.

Make no mistake – this is not an act of compassion or cowardice. The simple fact is that Jacob Zuma and the other national officials have the full backing of the NEC on the ANCYL sanctions, and can afford to be patient.

What they’re ensuring is that Malema can never play the victim. It would have caused a massive stink had the NDCA said that Malema’s sanctions applied from Saturday, at a time when he would have been attending the NEC meeting in Pretoria, only to have him carried out of it by the police. That would have looked – dare we say – petty.

On the other front of Malema’s fight for survival, things aren’t looking good in Limpopo. The NEC is going to get involved in the contested PEC election.

“The Limpopo provincial conference was endorsed by the ANC and it was agreed that disputes received from branches of the ANC will be investigated and a report tabled once the investigation is completed,” Mantashe said.

That will give Cassel Mathale something to think about. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate already with the Cabinet ‘nationalising’ provincial departments in the government he leads. The Mail & Guardian reports that Mantashe was actually pushing for the NEC to disband the Limpopo PEC altogether. Mathale will have less time to campaign on Malema’s behalf, that’s for sure.

And that’s that, really. Like we’ve said before, none of the faffing about that is currently underway will matter either way. Malema will still be out of contention in Mangaung. And if Mathale isn’t careful, he’ll do himself a serious injury before December. DM

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Photo: There are many questions Gwede Mantashe could answer, but won’t. REUTERS.


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