Fiery Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Tuesday apologised to former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela for helping to bring President Jacob Zuma to power, before he led a walkout of his MPs from the National Assembly.
Participating in the debate on Zuma’s State of the Nation address, Malema acknowledged that he had “led the charge for the removal of President Mbeki” and admitted this was a mistake.
“We were misled by this man,” Malema said, referring to Zuma, who had allegedly told him he was not prepared to work with Mbeki.
In his speech, Malema also called Zuma an “illegitimate” president, and listed some of his grievances.
These included sleeping with “with an HIV-positive woman” and saying a shower would cure it.
“This is a man who knowingly impregnated a friend’s child, knowing he had other wives at home. This is another sign of your misjudgments,” Malema said.
“My Zupta, your leadership can be summed up into three things – the Guptas, Nkandla and Umshini Wami,” Malema said before walking out of the National Assembly. He was followed by his entire caucus.
Malema was referring to Zuma’s friendship with the influential and reportedly politically well-connected Gupta family, the president’s controversial Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as Zuma’s signature song Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (Bring me my machine gun).
‘Exit with dignity’
Shortly after Malema’s address, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa addressed the National Assembly and urged President Jacob Zuma to affect a smooth, dignified departure from power.
“Give us a mandate, Msholozi, to handle your exit with dignity,” Holomisa said.
He said his call was motivated by the damage the Nkandla scandal had caused to trust in his office and to many other state institutions.
It followed similar pleas from the EFF, the Democratic Alliance and the National Freedom Party for Zuma to leave office.
They argued that the speech was conclusive proof that Zuma was a president out of touch with reality who placed his own interests above those of the country. – African News Agency (ANA) and News24