Johannesburg - In an unprecedented move, axed ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has apologised to President Jacob Zuma for the barrage of insults he hurled at him and “undermining him personally” over the past few years.
He said his apology was in response to a call from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that he should mend his ways and disagree with political opponents in a respectful manner.
However, the firebrand maintained that he would never apologise for publicly speaking out against the “corrupt tendencies” of Zuma, his leadership collective and administration.
In an interview with The Star on Tuesday, Malema said he was now entering electoral politics and needed to conduct himself differently from his days as a youth leader.
“There are many things we said which showed that perhaps we were undermining him personally, and we apologise for that. But for his corrupt tendencies and that of his collective, and the departments, we will never apologise. We shall continue to disagree with him, but with due respect as an elderly person,” Malema said.
He said, however, he still disagreed with Zuma’s leadership style, political direction and policies.
Malema said he would remain robust, firm and radical.
Asked whether he would approach Zuma personally or the ANC to tender his apology, Malema replied: “I will never do that. I am using the same platform I used to say those things which made him uncomfortable. Apology in the ANC is worth nothing.
“When we were expelled, we apologised several times, and the ANC said ‘apology or no apology, we are going ahead with what we intend to do’.”
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza declined to comment. “I cannot comment on that because it will be directed at the leadership and it will be a matter the leadership will need to respond to,” Khoza said.
Malema said the Zuma administration had “reinvited” him back to active politics by seizing his Polokwane cabbage and cattle farm, after he publicly announced he had left politics for farming.
Malema said his organisation would call an assembly by the end of the month at a still to be decided Soweto venue. The assembly, he said, would take a final decision on whether the EFF should register as a political party and contest next year’s elections. He added that a team that included economists and professors were finalising EFF’s policies for discussion and adoption by the assembly.
The policies would be substantive. “We stand against corruption. We need a transparent government. Stealing from the poor should be treated as treason,” he said.
Insisting that his forum was growing and had attracted ANC and United Democratic Movement members, Malema said many members had brought their own constituencies with them.
He took a swipe at Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele, saying she had formed her new party because she needed money for pension.
Agang’s communication head Thabo Leshilo dismissed Malema’s statement as “Juju’s latest comic”.
“We all know that, even he himself does not always believe what he spews with his own mouth. I bet you that, wherever he is, he’s just as surprised that he said that. On a serious note, we are flattered that he’s included Agang SA in his repertoire,” Leshilo said.