Malema defends Zuma in battle of the former presidents

EFF leader Julius Malema during a round table discussion with The Star editor Sifiso Mahlangu, held in the party’s headquarters at Winnie Mandela house in the Joburg CBD. Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

EFF leader Julius Malema during a round table discussion with The Star editor Sifiso Mahlangu, held in the party’s headquarters at Winnie Mandela house in the Joburg CBD. Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

Published Mar 16, 2024


EFF leader Julius Malema has defended former president Jacob Zuma after what appears to be an attack on him by his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki launched an attack on Zuma on Wednesday night while addressing students at the Thabo Mbeki African School of Public and International Affairs at Unisa’s Muckleneuk campus in Pretoria.

Mbeki accused Zuma – his former deputy president, whom he later fired – of seeking to destroy South Africa’s democracy through the SA Revenue Service (Sars), saying he (Zuma) was behind moves to destabilise the SA Revenue Service to ensure the democratic state project collapsed.

Mbeki further said it was a contradiction and a fallacy that anyone could be a member of the governing ANC and campaign for another party, while at the same time they were wishing for the ANC’s removal from power.

In December last year, Zuma announced he would campaign for the newly-formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), and said he would not vote for the “ANC of Ramaphosa”, but he insisted he would remain a member of the ANC.

Zuma has come under fire for his decision to abandon the governing party, with the latest attack coming from Mbeki.

The Mbeki-Zuma feud began in 2005, when the two were president and deputy president of the country respectively, but Mbeki fired Zuma after a series of corruption allegations against him.

However, Zuma was later vindicated, paving the way for him to win the ANC presidency at the party’s elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.

This led to Mbeki’s resignation as president in September 2008.

Independent Media’s attempts to reach Zuma and the MKP’s spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela, were not successful.

In The Star’s exclusive interview with Malema, the EFF leader came out in defence of Zuma, accusing Mbeki of double standards as both had been responsible for supporting parallel parties to the ANC.

The leader of the red berets further accused Mbeki of being responsible for creating The Congress Of the People, a breakaway party that was established by disgruntled Mbeki allies after the 2007 Polokwane conference.

Zuma had defeated Mbeki by a large margin at the conference.

“I find president Mbeki’s comments to be very inconsistent; for some reason president Mbeki thinks we didn't know that he was behind the formation of Cope, and for some reason he forgets that he is the one who was saying that he would not campaign for the ANC.

“He is the one who actually started that kind of language… that he has to be convinced why he should vote for the ANC and vote with his conscience… at some point he was saying his vote is a secret.

“I think Kgalema [Mothlanthe, former president] also said something like that at some point... today they say, No! We are ANC! We are pushing the ANC!,” said Malema.

He said Zuma was merely doing what he was doing because he had learnt from what Mbeki did before, and that Mbeki did not have the necessary courage like Zuma, who came out publicly.

“Mbeki did everything that president Zuma is doing, which is to endorse a particular party… that's why Mbalula [Fikile] used to call him ‘Dalai Lama’.”

Malema vowed that ANC detractors, such as former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Gauteng premier Mbazima Shilowa and former government spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama, wouldn't have joined Cope without Mbeki’s approval.

He also used the opportunity to criticise Mbeki’s tenure as president.

“So we know that he [Mbeki] started Cope… however, the levels of inequalities and unemployment increased under the leadership of Mbeki and then we started seeing unemployment growing under him,” Malema said.

Professor of Public Administration at the University of the North West, Dr John Molepo, said the attack on Zuma was warranted because the elders were aggrieved by the stance that was taken by Zuma.

“This looks like the highest form of ill discipline from any member of the society or any member of the ANC. Who wants to see their own party dying?

“Mbeki is showing his frustrations of being betrayed by a fellow comrade, who has betrayed the organisation… as an elder, he was just voicing it out and trying to bring perspective to say that not all are misbehaving,” he said.

Saturday Star