It's a date: Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma to meet over tea on Friday
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Johannesburg - Former president Jacob Zuma and EFF leader Julius Malema are set to hold talks in a historic meeting on Friday at Nkandla after the former head of state accepted a request for a meeting over a cup of tea.
Malema set tongues wagging on Wednesday when he tagged Zuma on Twitter with the request: “@PresJGZuma can we please have tea urgently.”
The request was gracefully accepted by Zuma, setting in motion a seismic event in the South African political landscape because the meeting comes as Zuma has defied a Constitutional Court ruling in which he is ordered to appear before the State Capture Commission of Inquiry.
On Thursday, when contacted for comment on the details around the meeting, Ekurhuleni mayor and close Zuma ally Mzwandile Masina said: “I’ll be in attendance, I don’t know what will be discussed.”
In a tweet on Wednesday, Masina said that the tea session between Zuma and Malema would be interesting.
“I’m sure the two men who contributed to the constitutional being of SA will provide a grate (sic) insight of how mature our democracy has become. Countdown starts now, keep you posted!!!!” Masina said.
The request for the meeting by Malema came as a surprise to many South Africans on Twitter, due to the fractured history between the two men who were once close allies in the ANC.
During his time as ANC Youth League president, a firebrand Malema was a die-hard Zuma loyalist who had backed Zuma for the party’s presidency in the lead up to the ANC’s 52nd national conference in Polokwane.
Malema had even once infamously declared in 2008 that: “We are prepared to die for Zuma, we're prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma”. Zuma himself had endorsed Malema as a worthy future leader of the ANC.
However, relations between the two soured when the ANC’s senior leadership in 2011 charged Malema and his Youth League officials for sowing division within the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute.
After forming the EFF and gaining entry into the National Assembly, Malema fiercely criticised Zuma as head of state and was amongst many parties and civil society organisations that pushed for Zuma’s eventual resignation as president in February 2018.
Vusi Khoza, EFF KZN chairperson, said that he was not privy to the reasons for Malema's request for the meeting.
“They have a long history between them, uMsholozi will always be regarded as a father to all of us, and there’s nothing wrong with meeting him.
“The commander in chief also met with Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and also met with His Majesty the King Goodwill Zwelithini at some point,” Khoza said.
He said that the EFF’s KZN leadership had not been briefed of the details, but as per the party culture, Malema indicates when he is in the provinces, whether it’s on private or political business.
“We will await an instruction from the commander in chief. If he wishes us to accompany him, we are at his service and we will do so, but if he wishes for it to be treated as a private matter between the two as national and continental leaders, we shall also respect that,” Khoza said.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said that given that some in the EFF have said that Zuma should appear before the commission, it was possible that this could be an attempt by Malema to persuade Zuma to co-operate with the commission and the Constitutional Court.
“The EFF has expressed its own misgivings about this commission, but they’ve also stated a very important principle that there is recourse against the commission. If people believe that the commission has been unfair, they can always take this on review,” Mathekga said.