Malema May Face Suspension From South Africa’s ANC After Botswana Comments

Julius Malema, youth leader of South Africa’s African National Congress, may face suspension from the ruling party after the ANC said it will take disciplinary action against him for a second time in two years.

Malema and Floyd Shivambu, a spokesman for the ANC Youth League, are alleged to have undermined the party through their statements calling for the government in Botswana to be ousted, the party said in an e-mailed statement today. They have also been accused of “sowing divisions in the ranks of the ANC.”

Malema, 30, who has been pushing the government to nationalize mines, said on July 30 that Botswana posed a threat to regional security because of its close ties to the U.S. The ANC described those remarks as a serious transgression that “crossed the political line.”

“Malema has left the party with no other choice but to discipline him,” and he could face expulsion or suspension, Zwelethu Jolobe, a politics lecturer at the University of Cape Town, said in a telephone interview today. “It’s hard to see now how he will bounce back from this.”

Shivambu didn’t answer his mobile phone and it did not revert to voice mail. Calls to Malema’s mobile phone did not connect.

‘Enthusiasm For Nationalization’

“The move against Malema will increase the likelihood of a more reasoned approach to structuring the state’s relationship with the mining industry,” Mungo Soggot, a political analyst at London-based advisory service Risk Analysis, said in e-mailed comments.

“However Malema’s career is not over yet, and there are other elements in the ANC alliance which have also indicated their enthusiasm for nationalization after Malema let the genie out of the bottle,” he said.

In May last year, Malema admitted to violating party rules by dividing the ANC and “undermining the stature” of President Jacob Zuma. He was forced to apologize, seek anger-management help and agreed to pay a 10,000 rand ($1,387) fine. He was also warned that he risked suspension from the party if he committed a similar infraction in the next two years.

“When it comes to the ANC Youth League, we have had many incidents that show the desire to undermine the ANC leadership,” Gwede Mantashe, the party’s secretary-general, said in an e-mailed statement on Aug. 3.

Zuma Support

The youth league played a key role in helping Zuma take control of the ANC from Thabo Mbeki in 2007. The party is due to hold leadership elections in December next year, and local newspapers have reported that the league will shift its support for Zuma in favor of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The case against the two youth leaders will be held Aug. 30-31, Derek Hanekom, chairman of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee, said today in an interview with the Johannesburg-based eNews television station.

“We will be looking at better ways of promoting the core values of the ANC” including the need for unity, honesty, discipline and mutual respect, Zuma said in a party newsletter distributed via e-mail. “The leadership has to ensure effective implementation” of these values, he said.

The office of South Africa’s graft ombudsman said in an e- mailed response to questions that it is investigating whether proper procedures were followed when a company with links to Malema secured state contracts and whether any laws had been violated.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Aug. 3 that Malema held shares in On-Point Engineering, which awarded contracts to Malema’s cousin, his friend and former driver, and business associates.

Malema told the Johannesburg-based newspaper that while he was involved in the company, he didn’t influence contractual agreements.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net.

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

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