Harare - Julius Malema has affectionately told President Robert Mugabe to leave office because he is so old and is in danger of destroying his legacy.
“We like President Mugabe but we now need a new leader. Like (Fidel) Castro, he must hand over power to other people,” Malema said at an EFF plenium in Braamfontein on Monday.
He urged Mugabe, 93 next month, to step down as president. “Zimbabwe’s situation is bad. President Mugabe can’t even control a spade. He is no longer capable of discharging his responsibilities,” said Malema.
“We don’t hate the man. They can respond and insult us anyhow they want, but they are a group of cowards, those comrades in Zanu-PF, to be scared to say to an old man like President Mugabe, ‘please, with due respect, let go’,” he added.
“His overstay is not doing justice to the African revolution project. He is destroying his own legacy. We celebrate Mugabe. We celebrate what he has done and we will continue his legacy but grandpa, it’s enough now. You must let go and allow other people to continue that legacy.”
Mugabe’s legacy, including health and education, is in trouble. Following a drought last year, a third of the population in drier parts of the country are fed by the Americans - Zimbabwe never needed food aid and was an exporter of food for decades, until the 2000 land grab which also bankrupted the agriculturally dependent economy.
Malema, who has met Mugabe, has also never mentioned human rights abuses under the Zimbabwean leader’s rule when thousands of opposition supporters, loyal to liberation leader Joshua Nkomo were killed or fled to South Africa after gaining independence in 1980.
Thousands of supporters of the then-new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were killed, tortured, arrested and forced from their homes, as the party nearly beat Zanu-PF in elections in 2000.
Malema also blasted the MDC, saying it’s not an “alternative” in Zimbabwe.
“We are not even talking about MDC. MDC is not an alternative in Zim. It’s an imperialist puppet that seeks to undermine the legitimate land question in Zimbabwe. We are not aligned to anything that seeks to reverse the land question, and we genuinely believe that comrades in Zanu-PF who are young can continue,” Malema said.
“Julius Malema is a delusional populist and should never be taken seriously by anyone,” said MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu. “I have watched his recent remarks about Mugabe, and they mean nothing. He appears to know nothing of how Mugabe has trashed this country at every level.”
Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, could not be reached for comment. Mugabe is still on leave at the reported R500 000-a-month mansion he rents in Dubai, a country he visits several times a year.