Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema. File picture: Mike Hutchings

Sweeping reforms of the ANC constitution are set to close loopholes former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema tried to use in his defence during the protracted disciplinary action that resulted in his expulsion.

These include clarifying the positions of the leagues – including the women’s and veterans’ leagues – in relation to the mother body.

The ANC constitution, accepted at the 52nd national conference in Polokwane in 2007, deals with the youth league in three short paragraphs, but the latest amendments seek to clarify issues such as who can be a member of the league and what obligations they have in terms of discipline.

The amendments, to be put to delegates at the Mangaung conference, state the league should function as an “autonomous body within the overall structure of the ANC, of which it will be an integral part” – with its own constitution, rules and regulations, provided these are not in conflict with the ANC’s constitution and policies.

Malema was charged on three counts last year for, among other things, saying the league would set up a “command team” to help opposition parties in Botswana to unseat President Ian Khama; labelling white South Africans “criminals”; and saying “we must take the land without paying”.

An ANC insider said Malema had tried to argue he could not be expelled from the party because he was a member of the youth league.

Now, the proposed amendments make it clear that members of the league, upon turning 18, must apply to join the ANC. “Failure to do so shall automatically disqualify such person from continued membership of the ANC Youth League,” the amended constitution says.

Further, a member of the league will not be eligible for election to any position as an office bearer of the ANC or to attend its conferences, members’ or executive meetings unless he or she is invited, or is a member of the party.

It is now up to voting delegates at the ANC’s national conference, starting on Sunday, to accept or reject the proposed amendments.

The amendments are aimed at beefing up party discipline by providing tough sanctions for breaking its rules.

A copy of the proposed contract forms part of the bulky document proposing changes to the constitution – which has been distributed to members and delegates to the conference. The Daily News has a copy of the documents.

Proposals include changes which would result in any member, office bearer or public representative facing disciplinary action if convicted in a court for fraud, theft of money, corruption, money laundering, racketeering or any other financial impropriety.

The national conference will also have to decide whether to accept or reject a proposal to return to a 60-member national executive committee after Polokwane resolved to increase the highest decision-making structure between national conferences to 80.

An ANC member close to the process said it was likely many of the proposals had been made in the aftermath of the Malema disciplinary process.

The proposals also emanate from discussions at the June ANC policy conference and the 2010 national general council.

Political Bureau, Daily News