By Amelia Johnson|
President Robert Mugabe barred South Africa’s controversial politician Julius Malema from giving a speech in Zimbabwe Wednesday as he was expected to attack president Jacob Zuma for failing to stop xenophobia, sources said.
Malema riled Mugabe when he publicly chastised Zuma for his alleged role in fuelling the recent wave of xenophobic violence, which left at least 60 dead, according to an unofficial tally by NGOs.
Thousands of Zimbabweans were left injured, homeless and destitute after being attacked by xenophobic mobs responding to incitements by Zuma’s tribesman, king Goodwill Zwelithini and his son Edward Zuma.
Malema attracted an official investigation into his income by Zuma’s government last week after he donated food and clothing worth thousands of rand to xenophobia victims.
A source in Malema’s EFF party dismissed claims by the event organisers, Trevor Ncube’s Alpha Media Holdings, that the debate was cancelled because it was undersubscribed.
“Malema’s Zimbabwe visa and temporary work permit were denied. He could have gone to Zimbabwe to speak for nothing if the government had allowed him. It is not true that people pulled out because Malema was demanding $100 to hear him speak. That amount was set by the event organisers to cover their expenses, not to pay Julius to speak,” said a source close to the EFF founder and former ANC youth league president.
A senior Zimbabwean official said Malema’s visit was banned as it would have given him a platform to attack Zuma for failing, as SADC mediator, to deal with Mugabe’s excesses and repression.
“We are trying to get economic assistance from Zuma’s government and we could not be seen, as a government to be hosting Malema, who is his sworn enemy,” the official said.
Zuma was in Zimbabwe recently for a SADC summit on the heels of a state visit to SA by Mugabe, during which several economic and diplomatic protocols were signed.
Malema was close to Mugabe because of his anti-western rhetoric and threats to seize white businesses, until he broke ranks with the ANC, which Zanu PF considers an ally based on common liberation history.
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