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Africa

Supporters of ANC youth leader clash with police

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-08-30

South African police have used water cannons to disperse a crowd of stone-throwing supporters of Julius Malema, the controversial leader of the ANC Youth League, who faces his second party disciplinary hearing in just over a year.

REUTERS - South African police used stun grenades and water cannon on Tuesday to disperse supporters of controversial ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema (pictured) , who faces a party disciplinary hearing that could derail his political career.

Scores of Malema supporters hurled rocks and beer bottles at police, burned African National Congress (ANC) flags and posters of President Jacob Zuma outside the party headquarters in central Johannesburg, live television pictures showed.
 
If found guilty of sowing discord in party ranks by the hearing -- Malema's second disciplinary hearing in just over a year -- the firebrand youth leader could be suspended from the party for several years.
 
This would silence his calls for nationalisation of the mining sector, to the relief of investors, but would anger thousands of his supporters.
 
Police used water cannon and stun grenades in a bid to disperse the protesters and erected razorwire barricades, a Reuters Television journalist said.
 
Although Malema called for restraint from supporters on Monday, analysts said the violence could be orchestrated.
 
"If anyone thinks what is happening on the streets of Johannesburg is spontaneous combustion, well that is just rubbish," said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.
 
"Malema is prepared to gamble everything on making his disciplining and removal from the party as costly as possible."
 
Risky for Zuma
 
The hearing is as risky for Zuma, who hopes to be re-elected ANC leader at a party meeting in December 2012, as it is for Malema, who party insiders say ultimately wants the country's top job.
 
Zuma rose to power with Malema's backing but his rivals have since courted Malema to seize control of the ANC. If Malema is suspended, Zuma can likely thwart his rivals but if the youth leader is exonerated, the president could be fighting for political survival.
 
The disciplinary panel is led by senior ANC member Derek Hanekom and includes mines minister Susan Shabangu, who has criticised Malema's calls for nationalisation.
 
Malema, 30, and the top five members of the youth wing have been charged with sowing division in the party that has ruled South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994.
 
The charges also include bringing the ANC into disrepute by calling for an overthrow of the elected government in neighbouring Botswana.
 
On the eve of Tuesday's hearing, a defiant Malema told reporters the League's push to nationalise mines could not be suppressed by his removal.
 
"This does not delay our economic struggle. We see this as a setback for the revolution we are pursuing. We will continue to push for economic freedom in our lifetime."
 

 

Date created : 2011-08-30

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