NEW: Julius Malema "was not capable of rehabilitation," committee says
The sanction came after Malema made a speech critical of President Zuma
He was also suspended in November but allowed to attend party meetings pending appeal
The youth leader, who helped bring Zuma to power in 2009, enjoys wide support
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress denied Tuesday the appeal of its youth leader, Julius Malema, expelling him.
“We have gotten the official word on the appeal, and they have expelled him,” said Malema’s lawyer, Dali Mpofu. “We will meet with the clients tomorrow to discuss a plan going forward.”
The ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal confirmed the 31-year-old politician’s expulsion from the ANC Youth League.
“The NDCA confirms the NDC’s finding that the appellant did not accept his finding of guilt and was not capable of rehabilitation,” the committee said.
Malema was banned from participating in party activities this month after he gave a speech critical of President Jacob Zuma.
Malema had already been suspended from membership of the party in November but was still allowed to attend party meetings while the appeals process was in progress.
The suspension followed a speech in which Malema suggested that Zuma was running the party in a dictatorial and intolerant way.
“It is under President Zuma that we have seen the youth of the ANC being traumatized, being expelled from their own home,” Malema said, according to the ANC statement.
“It is under President Zuma we have seen a critical voice being suppressed. We have seen under President Zuma, democracy being replaced with dictatorship.”
The disciplinary panel said the youth leader’s remarks constituted “a very serious violation” of the party’s constitution.
Malema attracts wide popular support and his suspension may cause anger among his base.
He and the youth league helped propel Zuma to power in 2009, but have more recently become his fiercest critics, accusing his administration of failing to improve the lives of the poor.
Malema’s supporters considered the disciplinary action an attempt to silence the anti-Zuma voice within the ruling party.
In December, the ANC is due to elect a new leader who is expected to lead the party into national elections in 2014. Malema had been mentioned as a potential contender for the role.
He was suspended for five years after the disciplinary hearing in November but was allowed to appeal.
He faced a string of charges, including sowing party division by comparing Zuma to his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, and urging that the government of neighboring Botsawana be toppled.
In July, Malema criticized South Africa’s vote for a no-fly zone over Libya and accused the government of failing to prioritize the African agenda.
“In the past, we know President Mbeki used to represent that agenda very well,” Malema was quoted as saying at the time.
Malema has also been the subject of a criminal investigation by the national revenue service over allegations that he used his political position to influence the awarding of government tenders.