Posted on 23-10-2012
Filed Under (Jubius Dillema) by Chloe Davies

The battle between President Jacob Zuma and errant ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema took a dramatic turn on Monday when a fuming Zuma threw the youth leader out of a meeting.

“Who do you think you are, you think you are in charge of this country?” Zuma is reported to have said when Malema and other youth league leaders walked into a Luthuli House office where top ANC officials were meeting.

It all began when ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe went to the league offices – which are in the same building – to tell Malema and his comrades that the much-anticipated bilateral meeting between the league and the ruling party’s top six leaders, scheduled for 11am that day, had been postponed.

They apparently did not believe him.

The ANC officials and the league had been due to meet on Monday to discuss Malema’s controversial call for regime change in neighbouring Botswana.

The Sunday Times has learned that Malema, along with youth league deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer Pule Mabe, went to where ANC bosses were gathering to ask if the bilateral meeting had indeed been postponed.

Youth league insiders say Zuma was peeved by the league showing disrespect for Mantashe by not believing what he told them.

“Zuma stood up and said to them: ‘Who do you think you are … you think you are in charge of this country?’ He was very angry … they were asked to go,” said an ANC leader who was briefed by the league about the incident.

Three ANC national executive committee members and two youth league leaders have confirmed to the Sunday Times that the incident happened.

Since the Monday showdown, rattled league leaders have been lobbying various ANC leaders for support ahead of next Friday’s special NEC meeting where Malema is expected to be under fire for his remarks on Botswana and other issues.

There are fears in the league that the NEC may push for disciplinary steps.

Friday’s meeting will be preceded by a meeting of the ANC’s national working committee – a substructure of the NEC – tomorrow. The league’s recent behaviour is expected to come up for discussion.

Last Monday’s decision to reschedule the bilateral meeting came after ANC officials differed on how to deal with “transgressions” by Malema and the league in relation to their statement on Botswana.

The statement was in contravention of ANC policy.

Present at the meeting were Zuma, his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, Mantashe, and his deputy Thandi Modise. Treasurer Mathews Phosa and national chairman Baleka Mbete did not attend.

It is understood that during the meeting, Motlanthe argued that violations by the league could not be on the agenda because the meeting’s original purpose was the induction of recently elected league leaders.

However, Mantashe is said to have led the charge for the league to be called to order for its comments on Botswana.

Motlanthe’s view eventually won the day and the ANC leaders decided to separate the issues and reschedule their meeting with the league.

It was at this stage that Mantashe went to the league’s offices to inform them of the postponement.

A youth league insider told the Sunday Times that the league’s officials had prepared for the meeting and Malema had travelled from Nelspruit to attend, while Mabe cancelled a trip to the Eastern Cape.

Friday’s NEC meeting is being held at a time when the ANC in Gauteng is pushing for the ruling party to open the succession debate ahead of its 2012 congress.

Zuma and Mantashe are fighting for re-election while the youth league wants Mantashe replaced by the Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula.

There is also a quiet push for Zuma to be replaced by Motlanthe.

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