South Africa's Malema asks to stay in ANC: paper

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JOHANNESBURG – Julius Malema has asked to stay on as a member of the ruling African National Congress despite being expelled from the party earlier this week, a South African newspaper reported on Sunday.

Speaking at a gathering of the ANC’s women’s wing on his 31st birthday on Saturday, Malema said he would not challenge the ANC in court over his expulsion for bringing the party into disrepute, even though he believed he had done nothing wrong.

Instead, he has asked the ANC’s disciplinary council to allow him keep his party membership even if stripped of the presidency of its Youth League.

“If we made a mistake, discipline us. Don’t throw us in the dustbin,” the South Africa’s Sunday Times quoted him as saying.

Expelled from the party on Wednesday, Malema was given 14 days to appeal the ruling. An appeal would have allowed him to stay in his position as party leader of the youth wing until the appeals process was exhausted.

The ANC handed him a five-year suspension in November after finding him guilty of violating ANC rules by causing rifts in the group and undermining its credibility with calls for the overthrow of the democratic government of neighbouring Botswana.

He was allowed to keep his party posts pending an appeal. However, the ANC rejected his appeal on Wednesday and increased his sentence on the grounds he was unrepentant.

Malema still has some support within the ANC, particularly in his home province of Limpopo and the women’s wing, which welcomed him as “our son” and presented him with a big birthday cake with the ANC’s black, green and gold colours.

The previous Youth League leader, Fikile Mbalula, now a government minister, called Malema’s expulsion “tragic and unprecedented,” urging Malema to appeal the ruling.

The Youth League is meeting on Sunday to discuss a strategy for Malema and some of the League’s leaders who were suspended from the party. They are due to hold a press briefing at 0900 GMT on Monday.