South Africa’s outspoken ANC youth leader Julius Malema made a public apology and was forced to pay a fine over charges of bringing the ruling party into disrepute, the ANC said on Tuesday.
Malema had defied calls from South African President Jacob Zuma to cease making inflammatory, and racially tinged comments.
The ANC said in a statement after a disciplinary hearing that three of four charges against Malema — who spooked investors by demanding mines are nationalized — were dropped after he accepted a plea bargain and another charge of criticizing Zuma’s decision to rebuke him.
“The national disciplinary committee ruled … Julius Malema shall make a public apology to the president of the ANC, the ANC and the public in general,” the ANC said in a statement.
He would also pay a fine of 10,000 rand to a youth development project and attend anger management classes. He would be suspended from the ANC if found guilty again within two years.
The ruling may initially damage his image but will keep the ANC Youth League president at the heart of South African politics.
Malema’s inflammatory statements have unnerved foreign investors and many white South Africans. He has no policy-making role but has become prominent through his racial rhetoric.
He has a loyal following within the ANC Youth League and among some black South Africans who feel the end of apartheid should have delivered more.
Demands for mines to be nationalized spooked investors and prompted reassurances on policy from the government, and critics fear his slogans could deepen race tensions.
South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and a key gold producer.
Malema earned a rebuke last month from Zuma for supporting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his controversial land reform policies, effectively undermining the president’s role as a mediator to resolve differences between Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.
Zuma also criticized him for throwing a BBC journalist out of a press conference and for continuing to sing a song that include the words “Kill the Boer (farmer)”.
Malema apologized for criticizing Zuma’s rebuke, saying his remarks had undermined the stature of the president and had
created divisions within the ANC.
“I make this apology unconditionally as I accept that as a leader of the ANC and of the ANC Youth League my conduct and public utterances should at all times reflect respect and restraint,” he said in a statement.