(File image) Julius Malema. Photo: Jennifer Bruce

Julius Malema’s hopes for his expulsion to be overturned have been dashed.

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has found no grounds to overturn the decision to expel the youth league firebrand.

That’s according to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who was briefing journalists on the outcome of Monday’s special NEC meeting in Joburg on Tuesday.

The ANC's constitution does not provide for an automatic review of a disciplinary outcome by the NEC. Instead, supporters of Malema would have had to persuade the body to discuss the issue – and then won the argument that his case deserved another look.

Mantashe said on Tuesday that after a “robust, open and dispassionate” discussion by the 86-member NEC, the majority had found there were no “compelling reasons for a review of Malema’s expulsion”.

This means that unless Malema succeeds in getting someone to raise the matter at the party’s national elective conference in Mangaung in December, it’s the end of the road for him in the ANC.

“After a long discussion, the NEC agreed there were no compelling grounds to review decision of the NDCA. This therefore closes the chapter on this matter, including the leaks.”

He said the NEC had to “test if there was an appetite to review Malema’s case”.

He said there was no provision for the up-coming ANC policy conference to deal with the disciplinary cases, adding that the ANC constitution was “very clear on the business of the conference”.

Mantashe refuted what he a described as a “malicious SMS”, purportedly from the ANCYL and circulated among journalists on Monday night, that claimed “battle lines” had been drawn during the meeting, with Malema’s allies on the NEC fighting hard for the decision to expel him to be overturned.

“There was no NEC versus (President Jacob) Zuma in the ANC. We want to put on record that members of the NEC who wanted to speak yesterday were able to express their views without fear or favour,” Mantashe said.

The SMS which circulated among journalists also claimed that NEC member Tony Yengeni and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande “nearly fought physically”.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu denied the claim, saying there was no “pushing and shoving” during the meeting.

Insiders said however it had been fraught with tension.

Human Settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale, who is reportedly heading up an “Anyone but Zuma” challenge to Zuma's leadership, was said to have suggested the president had not shown the tolerance expected of a good leader.

Sexwale is at the centre of rumours that he might be axed from his cabinet post should Zuma decide to reshuffle.

Currently labour minister Mildred Oliphant is acting in the stead of the late Minister of Public Service and Administration, Roy Padayachie.

However, with the ANC’s policy conference just days away, and where fierce contestation is expected over particularly economic issues, Zuma might rather choose to wait until it has been concluded.

Political Bureau