South Africa’s Biggest Labor Group Calls For Julius Malema Investigation

Allies of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress called for an investigation into claims that Julius Malema, the party’s youth leader, was paid to help businesses win government contracts.

Malema, who has declared war on “white monopoly capital” in Africa’s biggest economy, was the sole trustee of a fund, named after his 5-year-old son, that received the payments and was used to finance a lavish lifestyle, Johannesburg-based City Press reported yesterday. Malema, 30, denied he was paid to help secure government contracts or spent money from the Ratanang Family Trust on himself, according to an affidavit to the Johannesburg High Court e-mailed by City Press lawyers today.

The ANC, the police and the South African Revenue Services should probe Malema’s finances, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s largest labor federation and a ruling party ally, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The police should look into whether Malema broke the law, Malesela Maleka, spokesman for the South African Communist Party, another ANC partner, said in an interview today.

“If indeed some of the allegations are true, then of course it is very serious,” Patrick Craven, Cosatu’s spokesman, said in an interview on e-TV today. “We will urge that strong action is taken should there be any offense.”

‘Poor And Needy’

Malema set up the trust fund “to help poor and needy students,” ANC Youth League Secretary-General Sindiso Magaqa told reporters in Johannesburg today.

After winning a second term as president of the ANC Youth League last month, Malema reiterated a call for the nationalization of the country’s mines and banks. His support helped President Jacob Zuma win control of the ANC in 2007.

“Julius Malema remains the commander in chief of economic liberation fighters,” Magaqa said, calling the allegations “dirty tricks” by the “right-wing media” designed to sidetrack the Youth League’s nationalization drive. “The media has been funded by the imperialist forces, the faceless people who still continue to suck the blood of African people.”

AfriForum, a civil rights group, said yesterday that it submitted a formal accusation of corruption against Malema to police in Pretoria, the capital.

“As well as the corruption allegations, the fact that Malema’s lifestyle and property is disproportionate to his salary are sound reasons to justify extensive police investigation,” AfriForum Chief Executive Officer Kallie Kriel said in an e-mailed statement.

Tax Authorities

The opposition Democratic Alliance on July 19 said it asked tax authorities to audit Malema as his “lavish lifestyle and spending habits” are inconsistent with his salary of about 20,000 rand ($2,949) a month.

Having grown up in a township outside the northern town of Polokwane, Malema is now driven around in a white Range Rover and sports a Breitling watch.

Law enforcement agencies “must investigate the allegations and get to the bottom of this,” the communist party’s Maleka said. “These are serious and weighty allegations.”

The ANC said it would not raise the issue with Malema.

“This is a personal matter and it remains to us personal,” party spokesman Brian Sokutu said in a phone interview today. “We think there is absolutely nothing unethical about Julius being involved in business because he is neither a member of parliament nor does he hold a government position. As far as this whole furor is concerned, we would be more concerned if he was involved in breaking the law.”

Malema failed in a court bid to stop City Press from publishing its story, because Johannesburg High Court Judge Colin Lamont ruled that his financial affairs are of public interest, the newspaper reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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