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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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The ANC Youth League is shutting down its controversial investment wing, with its leader Julius Malema on Thursday vowing to expose any "thugs" who benefited from dubious deals. "We can`t carry the same baggage with us. We can`t carry this problem. We are closing it down and then we are concentrating on other things," Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.

"We came in and we didn`t know anything about Lembede. We said we must look for our properties and if there is missing properties, there must be accountability.

"There`s no problem with arresting people, if people are thugs, they must be arrested," he added.

He said the African National Congress Youth League wanted to "thoroughly understand the nature and character of Lembede Investment Holdings".

Its investment wing made news headlines last week amid reports that Gobodo auditors found Lembede`s previous management had breached the Companies Act and no financial records had been kept since it was established in 2000.

Malema said the ANCYL leaders would meet Gobodo next week and request auditors to interview former leaders about Lembede, including its former CEO and former treasurers.

Lembede`s founding CEO was Songezo Mjongile and he was succeeded by Lonwabo Sambudla 18 months ago.

But Malema said the last CEO was not under suspicion - he was more interested in information Mjongile could supply.

"He will have to give us more detailed accounts on what happened to each and every asset...

"We need to know what happened to each and every cent and if there is any wrongdoing, that we will expose," said Malema.

The auditors recommended in their report that former leaders be questioned.

"Lembede has a very bad image. It`s not our problem, we [the current leadership] never messed up Lembede, never," said Malema.

"We don`t even know what Kebble look like," he added, referring to slain mining magnate Brett Kebble, who was mentioned in some reports on alleged missing money in Lembede Investment Holdings.

Malema said he saw a picture of Kebble for the first time after he had been shot dead.

"It was like... oh, so this is what he looks like!"

According to the Sunday Times, some R436 million from 32 suspected dubious deals was unaccounted for - a figure Malema strongly disputed.

"Four hundred and something million... there is no such thing, there is nothing close to R400 million. It is wrong to mislead the public about the figures.

"Some of us have not even seen a million [rand] with our naked eye, not to talk about R400 million... that is even worse. It`s too much money for us. We are still very young for that money.

"Even with the assets we have now, there`s nothing that is coming close to R400 million... [maybe it`s] closer to R100 million or R50 million," said Malema.

Currently, the youth league had assets in mining, property, fishing and telecommunications.

Its current assets will be consolidated and then transferred to a development trust for fund-raising and social responsibility programmes.

The process should be concluded by the end of the year, after which the youth league will be able to say how much its assets are worth, said Malema.

But currently, the ANCYL is in debt and trying to raise money to pay for its last two conferences held in Mangaung and Johannesburg.

"But we have always survived as this youth league and we will survive," Malema said.