South Africa's Malema escapes political ban, for now

PRETORIA Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:44am EST

Julius Malema, expelled African National Congress (ANC) youth leader, and current leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party, smiles at Polokwane High Court, where he appeared on charges of money laundering and racketeering, November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Julius Malema, expelled African National Congress (ANC) youth leader, and current leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party, smiles at Polokwane High Court, where he appeared on charges of money laundering and racketeering, November 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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PRETORIA (Reuters) - Left-wing South African politician Julius Malema narrowly escaped being barred from public office on Monday when a judge placed him under "provisional sequestration" due to outstanding debts of 16 million rand ($1.4 million) to the tax authorities.

A full sequestration ruling would have prevented Malema from taking a seat in parliament after May 7 elections had his Economic Freedom Fighters party gained sufficient votes.

His lawyer told Reuters that Malema, a strident critic of President Jacob Zuma, was considering an appeal against the provisional ruling even though it did not affect his political ambitions.

($1 = 11.0790 South African rand)

(Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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