EFF leader Julius Malema pays homage to late Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Soweto. Picture: African News Agency

Johannesburg – Leaders of the African National Congress and President Jacob Zuma have no right to claim the socialist legacy of former Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said on Thursday.

Supporters of the EFF, clad in red T-shirts depicting the face of the late Castro, filled up a community hall in Protea South, Soweto to pay homage to the Cuban leader.

Malema said Zuma and his government were doing the opposite of what Castro did.

“Why would the ANC stand up to celebrate Fidel’s life when they have not done anything close to his legacy? They sold out on what Fidel stood for and what the Cubans died for,” Malema said to loud applause from the crowds.

“Who are they to say to he must rest in peace? Zuma is not even ashamed to go speak at the memorial of Fidel when he knows very well that he is the opposite of what Fidel fought for…Zuma is the [forer Cuban president Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar] Batista of our time.”

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande also had no right to honour Castro, “because he failed to implement free education,” Malema said.

Malema said the EFF was the only organisation that could “legitimately claim” the legacy of the July 26, movement led by Castro, his brother Raul and Che Guevara.

“The reason why the EFF was formed on 26 July here in Soweto was because we were inspired by the fighting spirit of Fidel and his movement. That is why the EFF manifesto has a passage that says the EFF is guided by revolutionary internationalism and solidarity movement led by Cuba.”

Castro was human and had his own mistakes, said Malema.

“He made mistakes, but do we care about individual’s conduct or do we care about policy perspective and ideological orientation of such an individual? Fidel developed Cuba, he survived a lot of assassination attempts…the imperialists tried more than 600 times…the imperialts wanted to kill him but they failed,” Malema said to a loud applause.

Castro, who led the socialist Cuba for decades, died aged 90 last week. His body was cremated the following day. Castro transferred power to his brother Raul in 1998 due to ill health. The two brothers and Argentinian revolutionary leader Che Guevara led the 1959 revolution and removed US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista from power.

The Cuban government declared a nine-day national mourning starting from Monday, with a ceremony drawing thousands at Havana’s Revolution Square. The funeral procession bearing the ashes of Castro, began its journey on Wednesday from Havana to the resting place in Santiago de Cuba, where he first launched his revolutionary movement and claimed victory in 1959.

Zuma and travelled to Havana on Tuesday to join other heads of state paying homage to the admired socialist leader.