ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

The gloves are off.

In retaliation to the ANC’s decision to slap charges against ANCYL leader Julius Malema, the youth wing in his home province of Limpopo is calling for the reopening of the arms deal probe, a move apparently targeting President Jacob Zuma.

While he was still deputy president, Zuma was accused of having taken a bribe from convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik in relation to the arms deal procurement.

The National Prosecuting Authority later dropped the charges.

At the time, Malema threatened to “kill for Zuma” if he faced prosecution.

The decision to demonstrate against the ANC in support of Malema, was taken during a special provincial executive meeting of the league late on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by the ANC’s provincial chairman, Premier Cassel Mathale, a Malema supporter. “Time and again we get signals elsewhere outside the country that there are unanswered questions (on the arms deal),” league provincial chairman Frans Moswane said in Polokwane on Wednesday

“There is lot of information from institutions in various countries, and it is an issue in the public domain,” said the league’s provincial secretary, Jacob Lebogo.

His deputy, Rudzani Ludere, said, without mentioning names, that people must be investigated and, if found guilty, they must be sent to prison.

“The youth league gave (Zuma) support when he was accused of rape and corruption. We want to give the same support to Malema,” said Ludere.

The league also wants Zuma to take action against Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele, who have been fingered by the public protector in the controversial leasing of police headquarters.

“Instead of people responding to the public protector’s report, they want her to reinvestigate what has long been concluded while there are outstanding responses to her findings,” said Moswane.

Lebogo said circumstances were shaping Malema to become the best leader of the ANC.

“You remember when we opened a church in Seshego last year, President Zuma said there is a leader in Malema,” said Lebogo.

Meanwhile, other provincial youth league leaders also believe that charges against the national leadership of the youth league are “politically motivated, hypocritical and illustrate the paranoia in the ANC’’.

Following frantic meetings in several provinces this week, youth league leaders have come out in defence of their embattled national colleagues, who face disciplinary steps by the ANC after being formally charged with bringing the party into disrepute.

But the message from youth league provincial executives to the leaders of the mother body is clear: strike our leadership and you strike us all.

Following a special youth league national executive committee meeting on Sunday, provincial leaders have taken the message to their provinces that they should remain “unshaken” in their support of Malema and his co-accused.

Having been warned by youth league leaders last week that Malema should not be charged alone for what was essentially a collective leadership position, the ANC appears to have called the young lions’ bluff and extended the charge sheet to include the remaining four members of the executive committee.

This is the first time in the history of the ANC – which celebrates its centenary next year – that the entire league leadership faces disciplinary steps.

After levelling charges against Malema and his right-hand man, league spokesman Floyd Shivambu, ANC elders charged league deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer-general Pule Mabe with bringing the ANC into disrepute and for storming a meeting of the ANC’s top six two weeks ago.

Malema and Shivambu are to face the disciplinary committee on August 30 and 31, Lamola is scheduled to appear on September 2, but the dates for the others are not yet known.

The actions taken by the ANC have caused political shockwaves in the league, with provincial leaders expressing their anger with the ruling party.

Some have said that the statements for which Malema and company are being charged are no different from the harsh things the league said about then-president Thabo Mbeki in the run-up to the ANC’s watershed Polokwane conference in 2007.

Ayanda Kasa, in Gauteng, said she did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the disciplinary committee.

The league in Gauteng was striving to have the charges dropped and the matter dealt with internally, she said.

Shadrac Tlhaole, chairman of the league in the Northern Cape, said the ANC would not succeed in getting rid of Malema.

The others also supported him. - Pretoria News