South Africa’s renegade youth leader Julius Malema yesterday told his supporters to “never surrender,” a newspaper said, after he lost his appeal against his expulsion from the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The ANC’s appeals panel late on Tuesday rejected Malema’s pleas to allow him to keep his party card, after he was booted out for fomenting divisions within its ranks.
The 31-year-old Malema has yet to comment on the decision, but a recording on his mobile phone’s voicemail told his supporters: “Never surrender, never retreat, victory is certain.”
“At the end of everything else, we will not remember the words uttered by the enemies against us, but will remember the silence of our friends during these difficult times,” the message said, according to the Star newspaper.
The party’s internal battles with Malema are the most visible face of the ANC’s leadership contest, leading up to its elective conference in December when South African President Jacob Zuma will seek another term as chief.
The party encouraged its members to accept Malema’s expulsion.
“This outcome brings to finality a matter that has been under way for more than nine months,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
The “difficult and painful decision” had been necessary “in the defense of the organization,” he said.
Malema was elected in 2008 to head the youth league of the ANC.
From his revival of an anti-apartheid song that exhorts listeners to “shoot the white farmer,” for which he was found guilty of hate speech in a civil case last year, to his calls for white-owned land to be seized and given to poor blacks, Malema is never far from the headlines.
Malema stoked tensions within the party with his vocal criticism of Zuma and the ANC’s economic policies, calling for nationalization of mines and banks — even after the party rejected his proposals.
He was expelled from the ANC in February after a disciplinary committee convicted him of provoking divisions within the party. He had been allowed to remain leader of the ANC Youth League while he appealed the expulsion.
Earlier this month, top ANC leaders issued a joint statement denouncing Malema’s “shockingly crude” statements on Zuma’s leadership.
“The assertion ... by Julius Malema that new ideas are suppressed, and that the current leadership of the ANC is dictatorial and does not appreciate new ideas, is not only disingenuous, but a deliberate falsehood,” said the statement by Zuma, South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and four other leaders.
Malema had said in a speech: “We have seen under President Zuma democracy being replaced with dictatorship.”
Disciplinary committee chairman Derek Hanekom said the panel had decided those words were “a very serious violation of the ANC constitution,” which allowed a summary suspension.