ANC Youth League president Julius Malema will not be removed from his position by anyone but the structures of the league, his deputy Ronald Lamola said on Thursday.
“It is only the internal process of the ANCYL that can decide to elect or un-elect leadership of the ANCYL,” Lamola told reporters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
“The ANCYL will never agree that its leadership be subjected to unfair and unjust treatment or banished for narrow political purposes.”
At the ANCYL’s lekgotla last week, Malema said he would resign as the organisation’s president if the structures of league said he should.
“All leaders of regional, provincial and national executive committees… across the country rejected the offer of the ANCYL president to resign his position.”
Lamola said the ANCYL’s leaders would remain in place until June 2014, when its next elective conference would be held, because there was no constitutional basis on which to remove them.
He said the “foreign tradition” of trying to remove leaders of elected league structures without consent had to be “nipped in the bud”.
“If committees remove leaders of the ANCYL, they will one day appoint leaders of the ANCYL. That will be a complete undermining of the will of the people,” said Lamola.
Malema, his spokesman Floyd Shivambu and league secretary general Sandiso Magaqa did not attend the media briefing.
They were attending a hearing, also at Luthuli House, in mitigation of their suspensions.
They were found guilty, in November, of bringing the ANC into disrepute and of sowing division in the party, partly for making comments about regime change in Botswana.
Malema, who was found to have compared President Jacob Zuma unfavourably to his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, was suspended for five years. Shivambu, who insulted a journalist, was suspended for three years.
Magaqa, who was found to have made derogatory and potentially defamatory statements about Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, received an 18-month suspension, suspended for three years, on condition he apologise within five days of receiving the penalty or appealing against it.
Also suspended were Lamola, ANCYL treasurer general Pule Mabe and deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi.
On February 4, the ANC’s appeals committee announced it had dismissed attempts by Malema, Shivambu, Magaqa and the others to have the guilty verdicts against them overturned.
Asked whether the ANCYL was distancing itself from the ANC by not complying with its sanctions, Lamola said it was not.
“There will never be a time when the ANCYL will operate outside of the ANC. We will always be an organisation within the ANC.”
He said the ANCYL had subjected itself to the ANC’s internal processes.
It was upset that its structures, like the rest of the country, had to hear from the media about its leadership’s suspensions.
The ANC should have spoken to these structures before the announcement was made.
Lamola said all ANCYL national executive committee members had accepted at the lekgotla that the disciplinary proceedings had been politically motivated.
“There is no consistency of discipline in the ANC… there has been disrepute brought to the ANC by many amongst its leadership and there was no action that was taken,” he said.
“We believe that the ANC carries an obligation to educate and guide the ANCYL on all critical policy issues and not persecute the leadership for articulating the policy of the ANCYL.”