South Africa’s ANC Expels Youth Leader Malema

Posted March 1st, 2012 at 5:30 am (UTC-5)
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South Africa's ruling party has expelled its embattled youth leader, Julius Malema, after senior leaders ruled he has not shown remorse for sowing division within its ranks.

A disciplinary panel of the African National Congress said late Wednesday that Malema, president of the party's powerful Youth League, was guilty of repeatedly bringing the ANC into disrepute.

Following the ruling, a defiant Malema said he was not surprised by the verdict, but insisted that he was innocent.

“I have not done anything wrong…I spoke on behalf of the ANC Youth League and I am persecuted for speaking on behalf of the Youth League. And I am not prepared to sell out the positions of the ANC Youth League under any circumstances.”

In November, Malema was suspended by the ANC for five years after calling for the overthrow of the government of neighboring Botswana. He had appealed the suspension, but Wednesday's ruling rejected that appeal and increased his sentence because it said Malema was unapologetic.

Malema has 14 days to appeal the verdict. Some analysts say his expulsion from the ANC would likely mean the end of the 30-year-old's political career.

Malema is known for his racially-tinged rhetoric and his calls to nationalize the country's mines and redistribute white-owned farmland to poor blacks. His views have stirred a national debate on class and poverty in South Africa, which has the world's largest gap between rich and poor.

The news of his expulsion sparked mixed reaction across the country Thursday. Outside Malema's home in the northern part of the country, his supporters clashed with opponents who carried a cardboard tombstone and shouted anti-Malema slogans. There were no reports of injuries.

In Johannesburg, local resident Ntuthtuko Hlongwane said he supports the ANC's decision, though he agree with much of what Malema says.

“I think it's the right decision, personally. I think he made some valid points. It's just that the manner and platform in which he does it, I don't think a lot of people agree with it. I think there are more pressing problems in the country than Julius' ranting, personally, so I think it's the right thing, what the ANC has done.”

Malema is credited with helping bring South African President Jacob Zuma to power in 2009. But Malema has since strongly criticized Mr. Zuma after the two disagreed on several matters of policy.