South Africa's ruling African National Congress has expelled Julius Malema, its youth leader, finding he had
shown no remorse after being convicted of fomenting divisions in the party.

He has 14 days to appeal his expulsion, although the ANC's appeals committee has already upheld his guilt.

"In respect of the present disciplinary hearing, Comrade Julius Malema is expelled from the ANC," the party's disciplinary committee said in a statement on Wednesday.

Malema, 30, had initially been suspended from the party for five years, but returned before the committee in a bid to lessen his sentence.

Malema could decide to keep pressing his case through the rest of the year, up to an ANC leadership conference in December where he could ask the party's senior officials to hear him out.

But the committee's findings were a damning indictment of Malema, who has stirred a national debate on class and poverty with his call to nationalise mines and seize white-owned farms to help the nearly 40 per cent of the population living on less than $2 a day.

The ANC's youth league claims to draw widespread support in a country where the median age is 25 and more than half of young South Africans are unemployed, and has criticised South African President Jacob Zuma, the party's leader, for failing to do more to tackle poverty.

'Holding ANC to ransom'

In September last year, a South African court ruled that Malema was guilty of uttering hate speech for singing an apartheid-era song that called for the killing of white farmers.

Malema was ordered to pay some of the court costs in the civil case, which did not carry a criminal penalty.

Despite the breadth of the debate and the passions aroused by Malema, his conviction was based largely on charges that he had tarnished the party's reputation, created divisions within it and failed to follow its rules.

The committee said one of his statements, that the party had not won over the nation's youth, was "a threat and is tantamount to holding the ANC to ransom".

"The ANC constitution demands that discipline be enforced without exception," it said.

"The cumulative effect of comrade Malema's past and present offences, coupled with his own evidence of lack of remorse and disrespect for the ANC constitution and its structures .... has left no room for the [disciplinary committee] to consider his misconduct as anything but extremely serious."

Malema was a key ally in Zuma's rise to power, but has voiced disappointment with his policies and was seen as an obstacle to Zuma's re-election as party leader at the December conference.

Source: Agencies