Johannesburg -Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and his ex-deputy, Ronald Lamola, fell out because of differences on whether the league should nominate Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale for the ANC deputy presidency in Mangaung or back party treasurer Mathews Phosa.
The pair’s bitter fallout has resulted in Malema describing Lamola this week as a “sell-out” and a “traitor” who had crawled back to President Jacob Zuma in return for an opportunity to lead the ANCYL after Mangaung.
Defending Lamola, the youth league condemned Malema on Wednesday and said he should be ashamed of himself because his remarks were “not worthy of any leader”.
Five ANCYL sources told The Star that the duo’s battle was triggered by the decision of the league’s national executive committee to dump Sexwale in favour of Phosa as Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s ANC deputy.
This was a last-minute move by the league, which had backed Sexwale for more than three years, until Malema was expelled from the ANC.
Phosa refused to comment, saying on Wednesday “those are branch issues, not mine”.
Sexwale could not be reached for comment.
Lamola blamed Malema for Sexwale’s snubbing, while Malema believed that the acting president was behind the league’s decision not to support him when he appears in court on Friday, charged with money laundering.
A well-placed source who supports Zuma described relations between Malema and Lamola as “so bad”.
“Apparently Lamola is saying that if the balance of forces does not favour Kgalema, why should he stick to the losing side… Also, this thing of Phosa as deputy president has angered him because all along it was Tokyo,” said the source.
Lamola has declined to comment.
The league said: “Julius Malema should be ashamed that he has failed to show leadership to the youth of South Africa by constructively engaging issues of conflict he perceived. These reports must indeed be a disappointment to the youth, who look upon him as a leader of young people of this country and beyond.”
The league said Lamola was being criticised for merely warning members against supporting Malema as the league was “not on trial”. It added that the ANCYL was “above individuals”.
This came after Malema said he did not need Lamola because of his “selling-out tendencies” and had been shocked to see him in court previously.
He had accused Lamola of having asked Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to fire suspended ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, who is due to return in April, because he threatened his presidential ambitions.
The fallout between the pair has threatened to divide the youth league.
Kgotso Motloung, the Mpumalanga ANCYL chairman, slammed Malema’s statement on Wednesday. “We view this as childish by people who don’t want to accept that there are people who can lead better than them. People who utter such statements are people who are selfish, because if Lamola was a traitor, he would have been president by now,” he said.
Limpopo ANCYL chairman Rudzani Ludere said the league in the province would support Malema at his court appearance tomorrow.
“We are going there because the NEC of the youth league took a decision that Julius Malema will remain president until 2014,” said Ludere.