East London - EFF leader Julius Malema has apologised to former president Thabo Mbeki’s mother and to the people of the Eastern Cape for helping recall the former president and replacing him with “nothing”.
Malema was addressing about 2 000 EFF supporters at the Sisa Dukashe stadium in Mdantsane, East London on Saturday.
The gathering was Malema’s last in his week-long campaign in the province, which saw him visiting Epainette Mbeki at her home near Idutywa.
Malema also had an audience with AbaThembu King Buyele-khaya Dalindyebo, who left the ANC for the DA last year.
Malema also touched base in Mthatha in the OR Tambo region of the province.
It was a busy weekend for political parties in the Eastern Cape, with President Jacob Zuma, DA leader Helen Zille and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa all campaigning in various parts of the province.
“After meeting (Dalindyebo) we went to meet the mother of former president Thabo Mbeki. We went there to ask for blessings but also to get wisdom. I took an opportunity to also apologise to her about how we ill-treated her child. I want to take this opportunity today to apologise to the people of the Eastern Cape that we treated one of your own in a manner that was not correct,” said Malema. He said the ANC Youth League under his leadership did so because they we were “misled”.
“We find ourselves in a worse situation today. We are in a mess because we did not listen to the silent communication from president Mbeki that you are removing me and replacing me with nothing,” said Malema to loud applause and laughter.
The 98-year-old Epainette Mbeki is reported to have accepted the apology by saying certain things happen for a reason.
Mbeki also gave Malema and the EFF advice on how to use agriculture to help fight poverty in some areas.
Malema said history did not ordinarily give people a second chance, but as the EFF, they were given a second chance.
“As this generation we owe it to many generations to come by ensuring that the mistake we committed in Polokwane in 2007 and in South Africa in 2009 is corrected. So today we are not launching a manifesto in the Eastern Cape, we are launching a programme to correct the past mistake because we all take collective responsibility,” said Malema.
During his East London visit last week, Malema called on the residents of Nompumelelo informal settlement to stop voting for the ANC if they wanted to end poverty.
He said the ANC had not replaced shacks with houses because its leaders now lived in plush suburbs and forgot about the the poor.
The EFF leader ruffled some ANC feathers during his campaign and attracted the attention of the provincial ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane.
“Malema was misleading the people when he promised them delivery and he ignored the fact that he bought a house at an expensive Johannesburg suburb, demolished it and built a new one while he owned other properties and cars through wealth whose accumulation is subject of a court trial,” said Mabuyane.
Mabuyane said the lives of Nompumelelo communities “are not a political football”.
“These fellow South Africans are benefiting from developmental programmes from the ANC led government,” said Mabuyane.