AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema has pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of sowing disunity in the party, was fined R10000, forced to make a public apology to President Jacob Zuma and is being sent to an ANC political "school" for lessons in leadership and anger management.

This was part of a "plea bargain" negotiated with the ANC's prosecutions team that led the party's disciplinary hearing against him at a second hearing yesterday chaired by Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Ha nekom.

Malema's climb-down can be interpreted as a partial victory for President Jacob Zuma, who faced an uphill battle to rein him in.

Malema pleaded guilty to the main charge of inciting behaviour that leads to a breakdown of unity within the ANC and fomenting factionalism, an offence regarded as very serious.

Three other charges were dropped as part of the deal.

Those related to his verbally abusing and expelling a BBC journalist from a media briefing and comments in support of Zimbabwe's Zanu (PF) at the expense of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Business Day also understands that Malema has agreed to pay a R10000 fine. The money will be donated to a charity dealing with youth development.

Significantly, he was also cautioned. This means that if he is found guilty of a similar offence within two years his membership of the ANC will be suspended summarily.

The caution could serve as a way to ring-fence Malema, who is under pressure within the youth league as his detractors mount a campaign to challenge his leadership at the league's elective conference next year.

It is understood that Malema's agreement to the terms means there will be no appeal, and the party hopes that will put the matter to rest.

The deal comes just ahead of the ANC's national executive committee meeting at the weekend, where Ha nekom is expected to announce the decision.

U ntil last week, Malema's close allies in the youth league and the ANC's national executive committee were still intimating that he was not facing any disciplinary action.

Malema also tried to vilify ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, whom he tried to isolate as the main driver of the effort to bring him to heel.

The Malema saga exposed deep divisions among the ANC's top six officials with treasurer Mathews Phosa representing Malema in his fight with the party.

Malema lobbied hard among senior party leaders in an effort to derail ANC efforts to sanction him.

brownk@bdfm.co.za