JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The African National Congress said it was going ahead Friday with charges against its firebrand youth leader, whose case is pitting radicals against moderates in South Africa's ruling party.
Julius Malema and five other ANC Youth League leaders are accused of violating the party constitution and sowing dissension by undermining President Jacob Zuma and calling for the overthrow of the leader of neighboring Botswana.
The party's youth wing also has threatened to oust Zuma from the party leadership if he does not support its demands to nationalize mines and seize white farms. That could stop him running for re-election as president.
Dozens of protesters chanted in the street Friday in support of Malema, blocked from the party headquarters by a barricade of barbed wire and police on standby with a water cannon. But there was none of the violence that characterized the start of the disciplinary hearing Tuesday, when Malema supporters stoned police and journalists and shocked party members by setting ablaze the ANC flag and T-shirts bearing the image of Zuma.
Friday morning the disciplinary committee announced it had decided against all 22 arguments presented by Malema and would press ahead with the hearing.
Malema's arguments included that the ANC constitution is unconstitutional, that the charges against him are not very clear, and that the party rules are unreasonable and cause confusion. He also claimed he was not aware of the party rules under which he was being charged.
This is the second time Malema has been called before the committee. In April last year he was fined for criticizing Zuma and ordered to attend anger management classes. He was also told that any need for further disciplinary action could result in the party expelling or suspending him.
Malema, 30, also is being investigated by police on corruption charges involving government contracts and a charitable foundation in his name.
He also is being criticized for building a 16 million rand($2.4 million) mansion while he styles himself a champion of the poorest of South Africa's poor.