BY BLESSED MHLANGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government are trying hard to ride on the legacy of the late former President Robert Mugabe, yet they humiliated him by ousting him through a military coup and hounded him to death, visiting leader of the South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party Julius Malema has said.
Addressing a Press conference at Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion soon after paying condolences to the former President’s family, Malema said Mugabe was tormented by Mnangagwa’s government in life and they were now trying to violate his legacy by disrespecting his last wishes of not wanting to be interred at the National Heroes’ Acre.
“We are here to tell her (former First Lady Grace Mugabe) in person that we are very proud of her and she serves as an inspiration to a lot of us and that she must protect ex-President Mugabe’s legacy with everything against any form of opportunism which will want to ride behind the legacy of President Mugabe even when they tormented him to the last day,” Malema said.
Emerging after a lengthy meeting with the Mugabe family, where he also conducted body viewing of the late former leader, Malema said Mnangagwa failed his former boss.
“There are certain things that the family would have agreed with the authorities about how (former) President Mugabe would be looked after, especially after he left office, including provision of medical care, medical team and commitment to certain benefits of a former head of State.”
He said Africans should stop celebrating their leaders when they were still in a commanding position and neglect them when they get old.
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The late leader, who was declared a national hero, is expected to be laid to rest in a mausoleum at the national shrine on a yet to be known date, but Malema who appeared to be speaking on behalf of the family, cast doubts, saying such action would be disrespectful to Mugabe and his legacy.
“We respect the last wishes of President Mugabe and that in our African tradition, the words of the diseased cannot be undermined by anyone. It doesn’t matter how powerful you think you are … If the current dispensation here believes in President Mugabe, they should protect his legacy. Part of protecting his legacy is first and foremost to respect his last wishes and the wishes of his family,” Malema said.
He said declaring national heroes’ status to someone does not mean the rights of the family are taken away.
In a direct dig to Mnangagwa and his government, Malema said none of them would ever equal the weight and respect commanded by Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, who did not pay a courtesy visit to Mugabe from the time of his ouster in the November 2017 coup up to his death in Singapore on September 6, disclosed at the weekend that his 95-year mentor succumbed to advanced cancer.
Turning to the military coup that ousted Mugabe from power, Malema said such should never be allowed and called on the soldiers to stay clear of politics and retreat to their barracks.
“These types of interventions, if they are allowed, they may become an unacceptable phenomenon for the region of Sadc. We shouldn’t allow a situation where the military interferes with the political affairs,” Malema said.
The EFF leader said the international community simply accepted Mugabe’s removal through a coup to avoid bloodshed.
Mnangagwa has received overwhelming support from fellow African leaders after the coup and the Sadc region has joined Zanu PF in calling for the removal of sanctions by Western powers.
Malema, however, expressed a low opinion of Sadc and the African Union, which he called a gentlemen’s club that only exists to serve the interests of those in power while neglecting the poor.
“There is no such a thing (as) Sadc, there is no such a thing. AU, there is no such a thing. It’s group of old people who protect each other. They don’t protect the interests of their people. It’s a club. It’s a gentlemen’s club. They don’t care, they don’t call each other out. They are unable to say ‘you are wrong here, you are wrong there, therefore, this is how we are able to fix it’,” he said.
The EFF leader said the problem in Africa was its leaders who cared only for themselves and nobody else.
The outspoken South African opposition leader said Africa was being failed by its selfish leaders.
“We can’t have a country here in Zimbabwe with so many unemployed people. It goes back to the leadership. It is not the people who control the economy, but the political leadership,” Malema said, urging African leaders to take care of their people to avoid a situation where they are beaten up in other countries, referring to the xenophobic attacks experienced in his country recently.
He urged the youths to take politics seriously to take the continent forward.