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Expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, who was expected to leave London on Thursday at the end of a visit that included interviews on radio and television, has not denied being in the company of Zimbabwean businessman Conrad Mwanza, who is reported to have facilitated and paid for the trip.
Newspapers published pictures of Malema in Mwanza’s company at the five-star Corinthia Hotel in London as speculation about who was footing the bill for his visit grew.
Asked whether he was spending time with and being paid for by Mwanza, Malema said: “There shouldn’t be a problem (with that), my brother. Neither am I confirming (that he is my host).”
Born in Bulawayo, Mwanza is director and founder of the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards and is also founder of Miss Southern Africa International, according to the Who’s Who website
According to a report, Mwanza who lives in London, told The New Age that he organised Malema’s trip to London through his MCG Events Management company.
He said travel costs were covered by what he described as a combination of British and African business people who ply their trades in the UK, the report said.
“We invited Malema because he is extremely popular in South Africa and the UK. We think his presence will be good for our businesses here in London and it might generate interest for the British to invest in South Africa,” Mwanza told The New Age.
“His policy on land inspires us because he wants South Africa to avoid the Zimbabwean situation.”
However, a highly placed source in the UK told The New Age that Mwanza was actually a staunch member of Zanu-PF, and was helping other Zimbabwean business people who are loyal to the party to clinch business deals in the UK.
Asked if he had any ties with Zanu-PF, Mwanza denied any involvement with the Robert Mugabe-led organisation, a New Age report said.
“I came here from Zimbabwe, but I’m not linked to Zanu-PF. We have people from the left, right and the middle. We invite different people from different countries because of their business interests,” Mwanza said.
“Malema is in the process of securing partnerships with small businesses. He wants us to engage each other to avoid the Zimbabwean land situation and to put land and minerals on the table so that business owners can put up the money.”
The ANC has also put on a brave face about the media attention enjoyed by Malema, with secretary-general Gwede Mantashe telling Independent Newspapers the party could not comment on the overseas visits of “non-members”.
“Malema is expelled. Malema is not a member of the ANC,” Mantashe said. - Pretoria News, IOL