The ANC Youth League believes expelled president Julius Malema is still their boss, but the ruling party is having none of it.
The ANC announced on Tuesday that it would not review Malema’s expulsion, despite a demand from the league for its axed leaders to be reinstated and for a “political solution” to the crisis.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu dismissed the proposal outright on Monday, saying the matter was closed as far as the party was concerned.
“Our disciplinary process is closed. If other people want to raise the issue, they can do it in their own forums,” Mthembu said.
The national executive committee of the youth league resolved at an emergency meeting over the weekend to reject the findings of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeals and called for the immediate reinstatement of Malema, youth league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and spokesman Floyd Shivambu.
And, in a sign of mounting tensions within its ranks, it also relieved its treasurer-general, Pule Mabe, of his duties. He had been reported to be lobbying to replace Malema as youth league president.
Malema was expelled from the ANC last month, while Shivambu and Magaqa were suspended for three years and one year respectively.
The three were ordered to vacate their positions in the ANC and the youth league, but the league insists this undermines its autonomy, vowing to take the fight to the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December, if necessary.
“We remain resolute on our support to the president of the ANCYL, the secretary-general and NEC member Cde Floyd Shivambu, we reaffirm they remain our leaders,” the league said in a statement on Monday.
At a press conference at Luthuli House, league deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi said an official statement on the reasons for Mabe’s sacking would be submitted to its national general council, which would meet “soon”.
Mabe could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Political analysts said power shifts in the league and its factions would depend on whether and how a new president was elected – either through a decision of the current NEC, convening a national general council (NGC) or forming a special congress.
Pundit Prince Mashele said since Mabe had not been expelled, he was still a likely contender for president of the league if an NGC was called, adding that former deputy president of the league, Andile Lungisa, and youth league Gauteng chairman Lebogang Maile were also contenders.
“Mabe commands support within the league. The question now is for how long the current leadership will hold,” Mashele said.
“The current leadership vowed they would never replace Malema. But the provinces will now begin to make the call, influenced by the national leadership of the ANC, in whose interest it is to replace Malema,” Mashele said.
However, Malema’s political sponsors were also likely to be working behind the scenes.
“People like (ANC treasurer-general) Mathews Phosa, (deputy secretary-general) Thandi Modise and ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe – who are at loggerheads with (President Jacob) Zuma and (secretary-general) Gwede Mantashe – are likely providing political support… The extent to which we can know this is limited, because they work underground, but I have no doubt they are currently working hard,” he said.
Analyst Professor Steven Friedman said the league had been divided since Malema’s election in the first place. “Ultimately, (the disunity) is not about ideology or clashes of principle or ‘economic freedom’. It is competition for power and resources.”