(File image) Julius Malema. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - The African National Congress rejected an appeal from political rebel Julius Malema on Tuesday, cementing his expulsion from the party and President Jacob Zuma's re-election prospects for 2014.

Malema, a vocal Zuma opponent and leader of the party's powerful youth wing, appears to have exhausted all his options after months of appeals since a disciplinary charge last year.

The ANC's disciplinary committee said in a statement it had dismissed Malema's appeal, confirming its earlier decision to expel him from the party.

Malema has won wide popularity among poor South Africans with his calls for the nationalisation of mines and seizure of white-owned land.

He was suspended from the ANC last year for sowing division in the party, but was allowed to stay in his post pending the outcome of his appeals.

Following the charges, Malema ratcheted up his criticism of Zuma and even mocked him at public rallies. The ANC retaliated by turning its original sentence of a five-year suspension into expulsion.

Although not an elected official, Malema was seen as something of a king-maker within the party given his large support base among young people, as well as the Youth League's reputation as a training ground for future leaders. - Reuters