South Africa's ruling ANC has delayed final sentencing for suspended Youth League leader Julius Malema, who lost an appeal this weekend against charges of bringing the party into disrepute, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said Monday.
Amid confusion about the precise implications of Malema's failed appeal Saturday, Mantashe said the African National Congress had decided to let the 30-year-old argue for a more lenient sentence than his initial 5-year party suspension.
The final outcome of Malema's mitigation hearing is due within 14 days of Saturday's appeal hearing, Mantashe told a news conference.
The fact that we are delaying kicking in (the suspension) is more a political than a legal consideration, he said.
The decision by the ANC's appeals body to uphold the guilty verdict against Malema deals a major blow to his campaign to nationalise the mines in the world's biggest platinum producer and seize white-owned farmland.
It also changes the political landscape by sidelining one of the most vocal foes of President Jacob Zuma, who faces an internal party election in December that will decide whether he wins a second term in charge of Africa's biggest economy.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Writing by Ed Cropley)