Rehabilitation is better than punishment

The five-year suspension of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema makes me think hard about the allocation of appropriate punishment in getting someone to acknowledge their mistakes and not repeat them.

No, of course Malema should not walk scot free if the disciplinary committee found him guilty of sowing division and bringing the party into disrepute. Those are definitely serious violations of the ANC’s code of conduct.

But suspend him for five years? Seriously?

That seems to us more like a conscious decision to effectively end his political career and silence him forever as opposed to making him acknowledge his wrongdoing and rehabilitate him to ensure he does not repeat the offences.

We are not at all fans of Malema or the ANC, but we certainly do not believe “Juju” is a bad leader. Looking only at his leadership, he has bravely challenged unemployment, education, skills development and other socio-economic issues affecting us as young South Africans, most of which even the senior leaders have not been daring enough to speak out on.

At Wits, the Men’s Res committee is facing suspension for “misconduct” during O-week. For two weeks now they have not been formally charged and have continued to endure the hardships of eviction from men’s res, forfeiting leadership privileges and experiencing academic strain.

How appropriate is all this in ensuring that if at all these young leaders are guilty they acknowledge their wrongdoing and more importantly do not repeat their offences? Is Wits trying to rehabilitate them or simply punish them with the aim of destroying their leadership aspirations?

While they wait for their charges to be laid and disciplinary hearings, it has often been the case that leaders at Wits who have been vocal about sensitive issues have seen their academic careers end prematurely.

Just like Malema who has been “disruptive” and “tjatjaraag” the Men’s Res committee could be in for a tough time.

However, I hope management deals with this issue in a manner that rehabilitates and allows these young leaders to acknowledge their wrongdoings, if any, as opposed to simply punishing them aimlessly.

Malema supporters turn on Zuma

SUPPORTERS of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema demonstrated their frustration towards President Jacob Zuma and the ANC in central Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Malema, along with other ANCYL leaders, has been charged with sowing division in the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute. The crowd gathered outside Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, to support Malema during his disciplinary hearing.

Rubbish bins were set alight and signs and T-shirts bearing Zuma’s face were burnt or torn to pieces that morning. Zuma, along with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, appeared to be the target of anger for the crowd.

Several shops and companies closed their doors, with the First National Bank (FNB) across from Luthuli House bringing down its steel shutters.

Police reacted by blocking the crowd from approaching Luthuli House with barbed wire and riot police stood between the crowd and the building. The supporters then gathered in front of the wire with a large banner which said “hands off our youth league president”.

They also waved smaller signs which said, “No Malema, no ANC. The people shall govern” and “Zuma a Polokwane disaster”.  At one stage, they also began chanting Thabo Mbeki’s name, another apparent sign of the crowd’s unhappiness with the Zuma leadership.

Kagiso Mokubung, the ANCYL branch secretary in the Northern Cape, said he is “100% JuJu”.

He said the ANC should believe in the “autonomic structure of the youth league”.

Mokubung believes that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula will take the top job in the ANC in 2012.

Outside Luthuli House, Mantashe said: “When you open the window to bring in fresh air, and mosquitoes also come in, you take responsibility for both the fresh air and the mosquitoes.”

Mokubung said Mantashe “must get his story straight” and either commit fully to the ANC or the communist party. Mantashe holds senior positions in both organisations.


Photos: Brendan Roane