Why not charge ANCYL NEC et al sommer klaar?

The African National Congress on Friday confirmed it had charged its youth league President Julius Malema and spokesperson Floyd Shivambu for sowing divisions and bringing the party into disrepute.

Daren Hannekom, chair of the ANC National Disciplinary Committee, issued a statement on Friday saying both Malema and Shivambu had been charged with “various violations of the ANC Constitution, including bringing the ANC into disrepute through his utterances and statements on Botswana and sowing divisions in the ranks of the African National Congress”. He reportedly told eNews on Friday evening that the hearing for the two has been set for the 30 and 31 August 2011, where they will be given an “opportunity to defend (themselves) against these charges in a properly convened hearing” and are also “entitled to be represented by a member of the ANC whose membership is in good standing”.

Hannekom was quoted as telling the broadcaster that: “The members [Malema and Shivambu] have already been informed of their rights under the [ANC’s] constitution, including their right to appeal whatever the outcome of the hearing might be. These matters will again be presented to the charged members… so, as the charged member sits in front of us he will be informed of his rights, and the charges will be presented to him, and then the charges will be dealt with in more detail by those that have levelled the charges”. He said the two will be “charged individually” and that after defending the charges against them, “at the end of the day there will be a ruling by the national disciplinary committee as a whole”.

It is still not clear to me why the party decided to make a public statement indicating its intension to take disciplinary action against the two because this is clearly an internal issue that should not have been made public in the first place unless it claims “public interest” in the issue. But even if the “public interest” was at play hence the public statement on its intention on the conduct of both Malema and Shivambu, surely that “public interest” cannot dictate or be seen as dictating to the ruling party what it ought to do when one of its members has crossed the line? If so, this gives the impression that had it not been for the “public interest” on the conduct of the party’s members – then party would not have taken let alone shown any interest in taking disciplinary actions against its members. Although the ruling party had decided to make internal matters public matters in its public statement, this, however, does not mean Malema and or Shivambu should comment on the issue. Their decision to comment on the issue, which I think is fair, is their prerogative right and is not for us the general public despite the “public interest” in the matter hence Shivambu declined to comment, saying: “we are not commenting on that… we are not commenting on that at all”.

As president of the league, Malema is charged with contravening ANC constitution over its Botswana remarks – for which he has since apologised – that league would “establish a Botswana Command Team which will work towards uniting all oppositional forces in Botswana to oppose the puppet regime of Botswana led by the Botswana Democratic Party [BDP]”. In its National Executive resolution last month the league accused Botswana government led by the BDP as “a foot stool of imperialism, a security threat to Africa and always under constant puppetry of the United States”.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu early this month criticised the league over its regime comments, saying the ruling party “totally reject and publicly rebuke the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) on its extremely thoughtless and embarrassing pronouncements on ‘regime change’ in Botswana and the so called veering off the African agenda by the African Union (AU) together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)”.

Mthembu said the establishment of command teams and calling BDP a “foot stool of imperialism, a security thereat to African and [being] always under a constant puppetry of the United States” was a “total deviation and an affront to the ANC policies”. He said the comments were an “insult and disrespect” to Botswana President Ian Khama and a “clear demonstration that the ANCYL’s discipline has clearly crossed the political line”.

“The ANC has no policy of effecting regime changes anywhere in the continent and or in the world, and therefore it is totally unimaginable that the Youth League of the ANC can even think of such, let alone lead and put such in the public domain”, he said in a statement. He went on to remind the league of Article F of the constitution of the ruling party which states that it is a “mass organ of the ANC that function as an autonomous body (not independent) within the overall structure of the ANC which it is an integral part”.  Mthembu said the league’s “life and body politic is based on the political and ideological objectives of the ANC” and that it respected Botswana’s “sovereignty and its strong democracy” and even encouraged the league to work with the ruling party in that regard.

His criticism was followed by ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe who said the league had on several occasions shown the “desire to undermine the ANC leadership under the pretext of not understanding the relationship between the two [ANC and ANCYL]”. Mantashe said the constitution was clear that the league “will function as an autonomous body within the overall structure of the ANC, of which it will be integral part, with its own Constitution, rules and regulations, provided that these shall not be in conflict with the Constitution and policies of the ANC”.

In response to Mantashe and Mthembu, Shivambu hit back saying the league “emphatically disagrees with the ANC Spokesperson’s approach on the Botswana question and very disappointed with the manner in which Cde Jackson Mthembu handled the matter”. Shivambu said the league “does not believe that our position on Botswana and the approach is inconsistent with ANC policy outlook, and the public condemnation by ANC Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu does not help to clarify this position” and that the league’s “resolution” on Botswana “stands until there is discussion with ANC Constitutional structures on what should be the approach to the Botswana question”.

But of course all this was before the league rushed with an apology last week.

‘He never did that’ apology

This is not the first time the (autonomous?) league has crossed the line with the mother-body. In May last year Malema was found guilty of contravening Rule 25.5 of the ANC constitution for “behaving in such a way as to provoke serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organization” after his comments in April that year that even when former President Thabo Mbeki differed with the league, and the league had “taken firm radical positions against him, he never did that”. This was seen by the ANC Disciplinary Committee as “implying that the ANC Youth League, of which you [Malema] are the President, has taken a position against the President [Jacob Zuma] of the ANC”. Malema was then instructed to publicly apologise to Zuma.

So to stop Malema from “behaving in such a way as to provoke serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organization” – the disciplinary committee recommended that he attends ANC Political School “for at least twenty (20) days within the next year [2011], from the date of this ruling [11 May 2011]”. The school was to provide him with programmes on “effective leadership communication and anger management or other appropriate programmes at local institutions to be determined by the NDC” and this would be monitored”.

Malema was also fined R10, 000 (ten thousand rand) payable within 3 months to a Youth Development Project. (See the full apology here).

Promoting ‘core values’

On Friday Zuma said the ruling party would, during its NEC meeting, be “looking at better ways of promoting the core values of the ANC internally – unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates, constructive criticism and self-criticism and mutual respect”. He said the “need for discipline within the ranks of the movement” would also be discussed but I suspect this is as a result of the league’s ill-discipline not only towards Mthembu and Mantashe but to the entire organisation and its autonomous claim.

But still, I do not think the discussion would yield any results because as I have criticised Zuma and the ANC Political School before – it was in October last year, just within five months after recommendations by the ANC DC that Malema should go to the party’s political school that he [Malema] called Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille a ‘cockroach’.

This was embarrassing because the comments were made by Malema just before Zuma “took the stand just after African National Youth League president Julius Malema reportedly insulted opposition (although I prefer to call them alternative) Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille and calling her a “cockroach” is embarrassing. At least to me, that is”. This was even more embarrassing because Zuma “never said it was wrong of Malema to have insulted Zille, calling her a ‘cockroach’”.

Charge the ANCLY et al?

If I were the ANC I would charge the entire ANCYL National Executive Committee because the resolution on Botswana was a collective decision made on behalf of the league.

So why charge Malema and Shivambu only? Or maybe Shivambu is charged because as spokesperson of the league he has issued statements on behalf of the league while Malema is charged for not having called Shivambu et al to order? Whatever it is, I think the decision to charge these two individuals alone is strange as many youth members and some of its NECs have supported Malema in everything he has said.

For example, on 1 August a league member called Ronald spoke on Radio2000 about the league’s Botswana decision and he even defended its autonomy from the ruling mother body. And at the same time that Ronald was speaking on Radio2000, Mthembu was also speaking on Motsweding FM criticizing the league on its stance on Botswana. During their broadcast I said on my Facebook status (friendship may be pre-requisite) at the time: “ANCYL’s Ronald guy was on Radio2000 this evening defending its autonomy and its take on Botswana while the mother body spokesperson was on Motsweding Fm around the same time criticising the league on the same issues, saying the ANC would “nip it on the bud”. I was confused, it was like listening to God and Satan”.

Another league member, its head of international relations, Abner Mosaase, told Mail & Guardian newspaper in an interview on 5 August that the league was only “implementing a decision taken” at the World Festival of Youth and Students last year which had “agreed” that United States government’s African Commands “should be concentrated youth command teams”. Mosaase told the newspaper that the league was also “charged” by Pan African Youth Union “to run the youth commands” in that country to work with “progressive forces” such as Botswana National Front.

“The BDP is shaking. Its breakaway faction is raising the same issues that we are. We are also working with trade unions. The ANC Youth League pledges support for the initiative to challenge President Ian Khama. Our other criticism is that Botswanadoes not vote with African countries in multilateral forums such as the United Nations”, he told Mail & Guardian newspaper in an interview. Mosaase said the league was “not calling for regime change, but for political change”.

“We would have called for regime change if there was no democracy and there were human rights abuses. Political change is when you replace one political party with a different one because it doesn’t pursue a progressive African agenda”.

Reminded of Mantashe who said the league’s comments had crossed the line, Mosaase said in an interview with M&G that the “ANC made a small mistake, because we should not be holding public spats”. He insisted that “We [ANCYL] have not crossed the line” but that the league has “been misunderstood because there is no policy contestation on this matter”. So its probably best that the entire ANCYL NEC be charged collectively for its decisions – many of which have been seen as sowing divisions within the ruling party and bringing it into disrepute.

And as I wrote before that maybe it might have been the ANC Political school that has groomed Malema to a disrespectful person that he is today: “it should not have come as a surprise to me that Zuma never said a word to Malema about his comments because maybe that is exactly what he is being taught at the party’s Political School, if he really is going there and that he has not defied the party’s executive decision that he should attend the school where he is (regrettably) groomed to insult elders and everyone else who differs with his views/opinions and every member of the opposition”.

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