South Africa: ANC's Malema charged with misconduct

Julius Malema. File photo Julius Malema is a powerful figure in the African National Congress with strong mass appeal

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South Africa's ruling African National Congress has decided to discipline its firebrand youth leader Julius Malema for bringing the party into disrepute.

The charges relate to his recent comments that the ANC Youth League would work to effect regime change in neighbouring Botswana.

Mr Malema was "sowing divisions" in the party, the ANC said.

He is a controversial figure in South Africa, but his views on nationalising mines and farms give him mass appeal.

"Comrade Julius Malema has been charged with various violations of the ANC constitution, including bringing the ANC into disrepute through his utterances and statements on Botswana and sowing divisions in the ranks of the African National Congress," the party said in a statement.

The ANC says the matter is now in the hands of its disciplinary committee, which will determine the date, venue and time of a hearing.

The party has also charged Mr Malema's close ally, ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, on the same charges.

Earlier this week, Mr Malema apologised to the ANC for saying that Botswana's government was a puppet regime and a serious threat to Africa.

Anger management

This is not the first time Mr Malema has been in trouble with the party for remarks he has made about neighbouring states.

In May 2010, he was made to apologise publicly following a controversial trip to Zimbabwe where he declared the ANC's support for President Robert Mugabe.

His comments were made at sensitive moment during mediation efforts by South Africa's President Jacob Zuma to heal rifts in Zimbabwe's coalition government.

Mr Malema was also chastised by the ANC for expelling a BBC journalist from a press conference, calling him a "bastard" and a "bloody agent" and defying party orders not to sing the apartheid-era song with the words "shoot the boer".

"Boer" means farmer in Afrikaans and its use is regarded as racially divisive.

But in the end he entered into a plea-bargain with the ANC's disciplinary committee and was ordered to:

  • Pay 10,000 South African rand ($1385; £840) to a youth project of his choice
  • Spend 20 days of the next year in the ANC's political school
  • Attend some anger management and communication classes.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says many people saw the ANC's sanctions as little more than a slap on the wrist, and will be keen to see if he gets off so lightly this time.

Meanwhile, South Africa's public protector said on Thursday she would investigate a company linked to Mr Malema for government contract corruption.

Analysts say that although Mr Malema has no direct policy-making power in the ANC, his ability to influence millions of poor South Africans, with whom he is popular, puts him in an influential position.

Earlier in 2010 Mr Malema was found guilty of hate speech for suggesting that a woman who had accused Mr Zuma of rape may have had a "nice time".

Mr Zuma was acquitted of the charges in 2006, three years before he became president.

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