EFF president Julius Malema on Tuesday apologised for maligning former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela, saying President Jacob Zuma had misled him.
We were misled by this man, the president of the Republic of South Africa,” said Malema, once Zuma’s biggest cheerleader.
With Zuma chuckling while Malema spoke during debate on the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly, Malema said Zuma once pulled him aside and ”made it very clear to me that he is not prepared to work with Mbeki”.
This was after Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson dismissed fraud and corruption charges against Zuma in September 2008, saying there had been political meddling in the case.
The ruling paved the way for Zuma to become president. At the time there were allegations that Mbeki was plotting against Zuma when he was charged first with rape, and then with corruption related to South Africa’s arms deal. Zuma was acquitted of rape in May 2006.
Malema and the African National Congress Youth League he led at the time were elated. They had campaigned hard for Zuma to become president when Mbeki indicated he would make himself available for another term.
Malema said he also wanted to apologise to late president Mandela. Malema had accused him of being a sell-out during negotiations to establish a democratic South Africa. He made too many concessions and did not rectify structural wrongs and the unequal distribution of resources, Malema said at the time.
On Tuesday, he said the EFF would never agree with the economic policies of Mbeki and Mandela, but did not want Zuma to be president.
Malema, who was expelled from the ANCYL when he started speaking out against Zuma, and making statements the party considered to be out of policy, said Zuma was ruining the ANC.
When Zuma said he would not repay any of the money spent on non-security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead, the ANC supported him.
Now that Zuma said he would pay, the ANC said he should pay.
Malema appealed to ANC members to think for themselves.
Zuma’s time in office could be summed up in three words – ”Mshini Wam, Nkandla, Guptas”, said Malema.
Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (Bring me my machine gun) was a song Zuma sang repeatedly before he became president. The EFF had alleged that the Gupta family of industrialists were benefiting from a friendship with Zuma.