"I've made a terrible mistake and I am trying everything in my power to reverse that. This crisis was made by some of us … we will do everything in our power to correct this terrible mistake we committed in Polokwane," former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema said on Tuesday during an interview on SAfm.
"We once more sincerely apologise for having given you a president like President Zuma."
Despite legal and financial woes, the Malema announced on June 11 that he would establish a new political platform – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
In a press statement released at the time, Malema said the ANC could never provide a sustainable solution to the country's developmental problems and condemned both the alliance partners and the opposition parties as ineffectual.
"[The] Economic Freedom Fighters believe that South Africans should stand up and be counted. As economic Freedom Fighters. We call on all South Africans committed to real change to submit the names, contact details and current political affiliation to the [email protected]," Malema said in the statement.
During the radio interview, Malema also apologised to President Jacob Zuma for remarks he made about the ANC leader.
He did not say which remarks, but made it clear his apology did not apply to policy matters.
"At times we got very angry to a point where we said things we shouldn't have said to an old veteran of the liberation movement," Malema said.
"We apologise to him, but we do not apologise for disagreeing with him on policy direction and his leadership style."
Malema accuses Zuma of conspiracy
The expelled youth league leader on June 20 accused Zuma of orchestrating a political conspiracy against him.
"All charges, it's a political conspiracy by [Zuma] and his administration," Malema told the Polokwane Magistrate's Court – where he appeared on corruption charges – at the time.
Malema is accused of making nearly R4-million from corrupt activities. He is out on bail of R10 000 and faces charges of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering.
"The sooner this case is finished, the better. I am in the process of forming a [political] party," he said at the court.
Malema at the time blamed Zuma for some of his troubles.
"It becomes impossible to convince people to join the party. President Zuma has done everything to make sure that I lost everything and block whoever is linked with Malema," he told the court. "We tried farming. They come and take away everything."
Kenny Kunene to be 'dealt with'
Meanwhile, controversial businessperson Kenny Kunene – who on Monday announced his membership of EFF – said that he has been warned that he would be "dealt with" after he criticised Zuma in an open letter.
"We all know how tough life becomes once you dare to cross this government – just as [former director general in the presidency] Frank Chicane [sic], [former chief prosecutor] Vusi Pikoli, [prosecutor] Gerrie Nel and [prosecutor] Glynnis Breytenbach," Kunene said in a statement published on Politicsweb on Tuesday.
"Your reputation and your livelihood is constantly on the line … So I know to expect the worst. I've learnt from people like these what happens when you get charged. But how long are we going to continue allowing these people to scare us … I got so many calls from people warning me: 'They are going to deal with you.' People know this is a government that 'deals with people'. But is that something we are willing to just accept?"
Kunene confirmed on Monday that he was joining the Economic Freedom Fighters alongside Malema.
"I am like Paul, who used to be Saul, but saw the light on his way to Damascus. The life of sushi and my army of women I put behind me," Kunene said.
"I see this as a challenge and a blessing that God has given me to have so many followers to make sure I contribute to the development of young people."
He also invited "all South Africans who are tired of being lied to, manipulated and treated with arrogance" to join the party. – Sapa