Delegates pull plug on Malema's Zim trip

EFF leader Julius Malema

EFF leader Julius Malema

Attacks on foreigners have cost another prominent South African a trip to a neighbouring African country.

Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema’s planned speech at a debate in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, has been postponed indefinitely just a day before the event.

Alpha Media Holdings, organiser of the “Game Changer” series of debates, said on Tuesday it had been postponed because of anger towards South Africa.

South African musician Big Nuz cancelled his planned performance in Zimbabwe last month while Kelly Khumalo and Brickz also had their London performances canned amid threats to protest at the events.

“Unfortunately, a large portion of the delegates who had registered for this event started pulling out following the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa,” said AMH’s publisher Rita Chinyoka.

AMH publishes Newsday, Southern Eye, The Independent and The Standard newspapers in Zimbabwe and is owned by the Mail & Guardian’s Trevor Ncube.

Malema was to have addressed a crowd of between 250 and 300 businessmen and politicians, among others, at the Celebration Centre, Dominion Hall, in Harare. Tickets to the event had been sold for $100 (R1 200).

According to an advertisement for the event, Malema was expected to recount his story of “starting out his political career with the ANC at age nine, his views and beliefs on African domination of the world and share his passion and support for underprivileged South African youths at a half day conference in Harare”.

It was however expected that questions about xenophobic attacks would take centre stage.

Chinyoka said on Tuesday it was “most unfortunate” the timing of the debate had coincided with the xenophobic attacks and that “we could not ignore the sentiments expressed”.

Malema may still however be able to deliver his address, should there be sufficient interest in the future, said Chinyoka.

“We would like to thank the Honourable Julius Malema for accepting our invitation and we hope that we will be able to host this event at a more appropriate time in the near future, as we strongly believe that he is a worthy Game Changer who is pushing the limits of our thinking about democracy and citizen activism in Africa,” Chinyoka said.

Malema could not be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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