South Africa’s fiery and divisive Julius Malema has been officially stripped of his position as leader of the African National Congress’ Youth League after an appeal challenging his membership suspension failed.
In November, the African National Congress's disciplinary committee charged Malema, 30, with bringing the party into disrepute and sowing division, stemming from his involvement in supporting the overthrow of the current government of neighboring Botswana and his public criticism of current South African president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma. He was sentenced with a five-year suspension from the organization.
As leader of the ANC’s youth wing, Malema has always been unafraid to tout a more radical agenda than the national party, who has changed the tone of its message since the end of apartheid. Malema has led the group in calling for the nationalization of the country’s mines — a hot-button issue in South Africa given that they are mainly white-owned — and calling for the seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to poor Blacks.
Last year, Malema found himself in legal trouble when a group of white South Africans sued him for singing a violent anti-apartheid anthem. A South African judge ultimately ruled that the song constitutes hate speech and although the ANC stood by Malema in that instance, defending his use of the song, the party has now drawn the line.
Although the overall decision to suspend Malema will stand, he is now seeking a mitigation of that suspension, which the committee will hear testimony for in two weeks.
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(Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)