(File image) Julius Malema. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - Former African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema joined the ANC at age 14 in 1990 and moved through the ranks of the Congress of South African Students where he served as national president.

He was elected as the president of the ANC Youth League in April 2008 at a chaotic conference in Bloemfontein.

Three months later he cemented his place at the top by vowing to “eliminate any force” which blocked then ANC leader Jacob Zuma's path to the presidency, vowing “to take up arms and kill for Zuma”.

In March 2010, Malema was convicted of hate speech by the Equality Court for telling students that a woman who accused Zuma of rape “had a nice time”.

In April 2010, Malema visited Zimbabwe in what was described as a visit on indigenisation, and praised that country's president Robert Mugabe and the violent seizure of land from white farmers.

At the time, Zuma was trying to broker a political settlement in Zimbabwe, and the African National Congress distanced itself from that statement.

Malema made headlines later that month when he lashed out at BBC journalist Jonah Fisher, calling him a “bloody agent” during a media briefing covering his visit to Zimbabwe.

Zuma publicly criticised Malema's behaviour, describing it as “alien to the ANC”.

Malema was then charged with bringing the ANC and the government into disrepute over his Zimbabwe comments, his treatment of Fisher and his comparison of Zuma to former president Thabo Mbeki.

In May 2010, Malema entered into a plea bargain over the charges. He was fined R10 000, made to publicly apologise and attend anger management classes - but this did not happen.

The ANC's national disciplinary committee said at the time that, should Malema be found guilty of provoking serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organisation within the next two years, his ANC membership would be suspended.

In June 2011, Malema was re-elected unopposed for a second term as ANCYL president.

A month later, Malema called for regime change in neighbouring Botswana and claimed the country’s president Ian Khama was a “puppet” of the United States.

In August, the ANC confirmed charges against Malema for “sowing divisions” in the party and bringing it “into disrepute”.

He was charged alongside ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy leader Ronald Lamola, treasurer general Pule Mabe, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi.

Malema's first appearance before the ANC disciplinary committee at Luthuli House at the end of August 2011 was marred by violence.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Malema was found guilty of hate speech after lobby group AfriForum took him to court for singing the song “Shoot the Boer”.

In November the ANC disciplinary committee chairperson, Science and Technology Deputy Minister Derek Hanekom, announced a guilty verdict against Malema and his executive for their Botswana comments, among other charges.

Malema was suspended from the ANCYL for five years and was ordered to vacate his position as its president.

However, the ANCYL rejected the outcome of the disciplinary hearings as biased and appealed the conviction with the ANC's national disciplinary committee of appeals (NDCA).

On February 4, the national disciplinary committee of appeals announced it had upheld the convictions of Malema, Shivambu, and Magaqa for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing divisions in its ranks.

Malema was suspended for five years; Shivambu for three years; and Magaqa for 18 months.

Their appeal against their sentences was dismissed. They were granted leave to present evidence in mitigation and the sentences were suspended pending the outcome of this hearing.

On February 29, the NDC announced that it had increased the sanction against Malema to expulsion and that against Shivambu to a five-year suspension.

They again appealed. The NDCA announced on Tuesday night that it was upholding Malema's expulsion and the suspensions of Shivambu and Magaqa, but confirmed the suspension of Shivambu for three years, not five, and of Magaqa, for one year. - Sapa