ANC Youth League president Julius Malema faces political ruin and humiliation.
Yesterday the ruling ANC announced it had charged the outspoken youth leader for bringing it into disrepute - the second time he will have been disciplined inside 16 months on the same charge.
He is still subject to a suspended sentence, still valid for six months, that if imposed will lead to his mandatory suspension from the ANC.
This time, it was Malema’s comments on the “puppet-regime” in neighbouring Botswana that finally snapped the party elders’ patience.
Malema and the league withdrew the statement last Saturday - two weeks after it was issued. The ANC yesterday responded, charging Malema and his lieutenant, Floyd Shivambu.
Yesterday, a highly placed source said: “The public and you guys in the media underestimated the embarrassment the ANC felt over the Botswana statement.”
The ANC is understood to have been mortified by Malema’s threat to send a youth league team to overthrow Botswana’s government. Last night, ANC insiders were speculating that the teflon-like Malema, who has led a charmed life within the party despite his utterances on everything from nationalisation, racial harmony and even the country’s president – often at odds with the ANC – might not survive this latest bid to bring him to heel.
The charges came a day after the public protector decided to probe a company linked to Malema, On-Point Engineering, which has been fingered in the irregular award of tenders in the Limpopo Roads and Transport Department.
Malema is also being investigated for corruption by the Hawks.
Opposition parties welcomed the disciplinary action, with the United Democratic Movement saying it was long overdue. UDM secretary general, Bongani Msomi, said Malema had been like a bull in a china shop for too long, and South Africans had borne the brunt of his utterances.
“The damage his blind insolence has done to our economy is incalculable.”
Freedom Front Plus spokesman, Anton Alberts, said Malema should also have been charged with bringing the ANC into disrepute with his “racist” comments against whites.
Malema has a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to undermining President Jacob Zuma last year. He was warned not to commit a similar offence for two years or his ANC membership would be suspended.
He was fined R10 000, ordered to attend political education at the party school for almost three weeks, and to attend anger management classes under the supervision of ANC officials.
The ANC member said that in making the Botswana statements, Malema had done exactly what he had been warned not to do.
Last April, Malema got away with a slap on the wrist after he was charged for his behaviour on a visit to Zimbabwe when he aligned himself with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF as the ANC was trying to mediate in Zimbabwe; singing “shoot the Boer” after AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche was murdered on his farm; and insulting and ordering a BBC reporter out of an ANCYL press conference at Luthuli House in Joburg.
Last month, the league resolved in its first executive meeting after its June national congress to establish a Botswana command team which, the league said, would work towards uniting the opposition in Botswana to oppose the “puppet regime” led by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Weeks later the ANCYL apologised to the ANC for the statement.
The ANC, which sternly rebuked the league over the Botswana statement, had until yesterday not responded to the apology.
At the time, the mother body described the league’s statements as “extremely thoughtless and embarrassing pronouncements”, saying the command team proposal was a deviation from and an affront to ANC policies.
“This insult and disrespect to the President (Honourable Ian Khama), the government and the people of Botswana and a threat to destabilise and effect regime change in Botswana is a clear demonstration that the ANCYL’s ill discipline has clearly crossed the political line.”
The ANC’s national disciplinary committee chairman and Deputy Science and Technology Minister, Derek Hanekom, told e.tv yesterday that Malema and Shivambu have been charged separately and would have separate hearings, scheduled for August 30 and 31.
The ANC’s chief national prosecutor Uriel Abrahamse, who presented the case on behalf of the office of the party’s secretary-general Gwede Mantashe last year, will again lead the prosecution, but it is not clear who will represent the duo. Malema was represented by ANC treasurer-general and lawyer Mathews Phosa last time.
Emeritus Arch Bishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987, the Sydney Peace Prize (1999) the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
I have decided that he qualified for the most prestigious online award since the creation of the Internet (by a black man)
So to honour his Bishopness…it gives me great pleasure to award Desmond Tutu with this certificate that he can hang on the wall in his office or in the living room of his mansion in Bishops Court, Cape Town.
Despite the R2.4bn (Swazi emalangeni is equal to the rand) loan from the South African government to its cash-strapped neighbour, Swaziland is sinking deeper into debt.
While the money is yet to be given to Swaziland (the first instalment will be paid at the end of August), various institutions and organisations disagree on what government should do with the money.
Most of the Swaziland government’s business creditors feel the money should be used to pay them, while others believe it should go towards the country’s education institutions.
The country’s only university and public schools have closed because of a lack of funds.
By the end of May government owed independent businesses R1.4 bn.
Businesses feel their debt should be paid first, once government receives the first instalment of about R800m. South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan said the loan will be released in three instalments, at the end of August, October and February 2012.
“A lot of companies are closing down because government has not paid them,” said Hezekiel Mabuza, vice-president of the Federation of the Swaziland Business Community (FESBC).
“We hope government will use the loan from South Africa to pay us, otherwise more businesses will close down.”
FESBC has a membership of 500 small and medium businesses, and so far over 50 have closed down because government has failed to pay them for supplied goods and services.
“What’s worse, we can’t get stock on credit from South African suppliers because we have outstanding debts,” said Mabuza.
The country’s cash flow problems started in 2010 when Swaziland received 60% less of what it used to get from the Southern African Customs Union.
The regional customs union used to contribute more than half of Swaziland’s national budget, but the revenue dropped after the global economic meltdown.
But the country’s education sector has also suffered a severe blow because of the lack of funds. The reopening of the University of Swaziland (Uniswa), the country’s only university, has been put on hold because government does not have adequate funds for scholarships, which are awarded to all students who get accepted to the university.
According to Uniswa registrar, Sipho Vilakati, the institution’s budget for this academic year is R241m.
Government has not paid a cent towards the institution so far and the university, which was supposed to reopen on August 8, after the holidays, is yet to begin lectures.
“The date for the start of lectures this academic year is yet to be decided by the university senate,” said Vilakati.
Staff salaries have not been paid in recent months because of the lack of adequate funds.
Public schools also had to close prematurely on August 5 because government has not paid fees for orphans and vulnerable children and for ordinary pupils under the Free Primary Education Programme (FPEP).
Out of the R148.5m owed for orphans and vulnerable children, government was only able to pay schools R37.7m.
For the FPEP, which caters for Grades 1 to 3 in all public schools, government owes schools an estimated R47.7m.
Government is also yet to pay the Examinations Council R3.7m for exam fees for orphans and vulnerable children.
“Unless we get the money to run schools, there is no way we’ll reopen for the third term,” said president of the Swaziland Principals’ Association, Charles Bennett.
Education is not the only sector affected by the economic crisis.
People living with HIV-Aids feel the money should be directed to the health sector, particularly to ensure the country has adequate supplies of ARVs and services of HIV-positive people, such as home-based care.
“Government has repeatedly said the health sector will be prioritised, yet we see it crumbling because there are no drugs in hospitals and boycotts by staff have become the order of the day,” said president of the Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV-Aids, Vusi Nxumalo.
In July people living with HIV-Aids took to the streets after the country’s buffer stock of ARVs fell below the prescribed three-month supply.
Since the loan was announced on August 3, the Swazi government has remained silent on how the money will be used.
Instead, Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini commended King Mswati III for obtaining the loan, further fuelling fury among progressives who had called on South Africa to withhold the loan to force Swaziland to democratise.
The southern African country is ruled by the monarchy and political parties are not allowed to contest power.
“It goes to show how undemocratic some governments that appear to be democratic on the surface can be,” said Institute of Democracy in Africa programme manager Thembinkosi Dlamini, referring to South Africa. Also furious about this loan is the Congress of South African Trade Unions whose spokesperson Patrick Craven said workers were disappointed at the vague conditions attached to the loan.
Annually, the Swazi government hosts the Smart Partnership Dialogue where the king and citizens from different sectors of society discuss development issues.
However, political parties are excluded from these discussions.
The conditions by the South African government included broadening the dialogue to include all stakeholders and citizens guided by the Joint Bilateral Commissions for Co-operation agreement, which promotes democracy and the respect of universal human rights.
“So long as there are no strict conditions to compel King Mswati’s regime to concede democratic reforms and to share the country’s wealth among the people, the loan will simply be used to maintain the status quo,” said Craven.
And without the conditions for regime change attached to any loan, Swaziland will continue asking South Africa for more money, said secretary-general of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, Vincent Ncongwane.
“Without fixing the loopholes, this loan is not going to help us,” said Ncongwane.
Swaziland approached South Africa for the loan after the African Development Bank refused to award Swaziland a R1.2bn loan because the country failed to meet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations.
The IMF advised the Swazi government to reduce public servants’ salaries by 4.5% and politicians’ salaries by 10% to save government R240m. However, salaries remain untouched after trade unions opposed the move. The IMF will return to the country at a date yet to be confirmed to further assess the fiscal situation.
Mantoe Phakathi is a senior journalist based in Swaziland. This article first appeared on the IPS News website