JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The party is over for Julius Malema, youth leader of the ruling African National Congress and enfant terrible of South African politics, who today lost an appeal of his five-year suspension from the ANC.
Malema, a leading voice in calls for nationalization of the country's mines, has effectively lost his presidency of the ANC youth league and been cast into the political wilderness.
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In November, Malema was found guilty of "sowing divisions" in the party and “bringing the ANC into disrepute" by calling for Botswana's democratically elected president to be overthrown.
His suspension was upheld by an ANC appeals panel, and announced this afterniing to reporters in Johannesburg by Cyril Ramaphosa, a prominent South African business tycoon and chairman of the appeals committee.
However, it was referred back to the party's national disciplinary committee for mitigation on the length of his suspension.
Other senior youth league leaders, including spokesman Floyd Shivambu, also lost appeals of their suspensions from the party.
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Malema was once a key ally of President Jacob Zuma, and helped bring him to power through the youth league's support.
But he has since become an outspoken critic of Zuma, and last year was put on probation by the ANC disciplinary committee after being found guilty of criticizing the president.
Malema, who grew up the son of a cleaning lady in Limpopo province, is still being investigated for fraud and corruption by the country's public protector — similar to the role of an ombudsman.
While Malema has positioned himself as a champion of South Africa's poor, he lives a high-flying lifestyle, known for his $34,000 Breitling watch, Mercedes-Benz cars and a mansion in Sandton, Johannesburg's wealthiest neighborhood.
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