By Everson Mushava
Some Zanu PF hardliners have reportedly roped in expelled South African ANC Youth League president Julius Malema into their mudslinging campaign designed to discredit South African President Jacob Zuma’s efforts to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
State-controlled media yesterday carried a report where Malema was quoted denigrating Zuma and describing him as unfit to mediate in Zimbabwe’s political crisis. “I don’t think that President Zuma is a neutral facilitator in the Zimbabwean problems,” he said.
“He has very strong views about President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. All you see is very pretentious and it’s not helpful at all.” Malema, a long-time admirer of Mugabe’s radical politics, seems to have fitted in well with Zanu PF hardliners opposed to Zuma and his mediation efforts.
But analysts yesterday dismissed the project as a “clumsy way of conducting politics”. Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst and leader of a local think-tank, Sapes Trust, warned Malema’s utterances could cause a diplomatic row between Zimbabwe and its southern neighbour.
“What is the motivation of publishing this story? Malema is no longer in the ANC and I think this exposes Zanu PF more than it exposes Zuma,” Mandaza said. “Some elements in Zanu PF are using Malema to discredit Zuma.” He said the move was undiplomatic.
Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo, in one of his recent scathing articles, labelled Zuma’s facilitation team as “discredited, hopeless, nauseating and led by cantankerous and clueless leaders in the mould of Lindiwe Zulu”.
Zulu is Zuma’s international relations special adviser. Contacted for comment, Zulu yesterday said her facilitation team would not be side-tracked by anyone — Malema included — from fulfilling its mandate backed by SADC.
“I have said it again and again that we will not comment on issues raised through the media,” she said. “The facilitation team will remain focused on fulfilling its mandate. Anyway, who is Malema in this scheme of facilitation?”
Two weeks ago, a clearly agitated Moyo lashed out at the South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Vusi Mavimbela, saying he was undiplomatic and reckless for “suggesting that South Africa will tell Zimbabwe what to do” in resolving Zimbabwe’s political crisis.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the major reason why Zuma was being lampooned by Zanu PF hardliners was his unwavering insistence on implementation of reforms. He said Malema was a misguided and disgraced politician who was also a political reject in his own ANC party.
“We know he once came here and was pampered by presents and promises from Zanu PF,” Mwonzora said. “He cannot comment on the facilitation of President Zuma because he is embedded.”
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said Malema’s utterances should not be taken seriously since they were coming from a bitter man who had overestimated his power. “What else can Malema say? He is a politically-starved person in a political wilderness,” Rusero said.
“He is now using megaphone diplomacy he adopted from Zanu PF of lambasting his enemy without shame at any slightest chance.” Malema, in his long interview, said Zuma hated Mugabe and his party Zanu PF because of their support for former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
He said Zuma was not a neutral facilitator in Zimbabwe and that he hated Zanu PF because he suspects the party supported Mbeki, who brokered the deal for a unity government in Zimbabwe after the disputed poll in 2008. Zuma took over as a facilitator from Mbeki when he became President of South Africa in 2009. NewsDay
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