Malema stirs the pot in Zim
Fired ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has directed another stinging attack at President Jacob Zuma - this time telling a Zimbabwe newspaper Zuma does not like President Mugabe and is not fit to be the mediator in that country's global political agreement.
"I don't think President Zuma is a neutral facilitator in the Zimbabwe problems.
"He has very strong views about President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF. All you see is very pretentious, not helpful at all," Malema was quoted as saying by the weekly Sunday Mail. Yesterday the Presidency dismissed Malema's claim.
Malema struck a chord with Zanu-PF supporters for his support of Mugabe's party when he visited Zimbabwe in 2010. But his published remarks lambasting the Movement for Democratic Change, Zanu-PF's partner in the fragile coalition government, got him into trouble with the ANC and later formed the basis of some of the charges against him during his first disciplinary hearing.
Since then Malema has reportedly been communicating with Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Minister, Savior Kasukuwere, whom he referred to as a close friend in the Sunday Mail interview.
Some political analysts in Zimbabwe have cautioned against his comments being taken seriously, lest they affect relations between the countries - even though he has been expelled by the ANC.
Zuma, the SADC-appointed mediator on Zimbabwe, has stood firm on the need for that country's political parties to implement a number of agreed political and other reforms as a precursor to free and fair elections - sometimes incurring the wrath of Zanu-PF heavyweights in the process.
"Malema is being used by some elements from Zanu-PF to discredit President Zuma.
"His statement should be understood on that level, otherwise it could spoil relations between Harare and Johannesburg," said Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a political commentator.
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said Malema's statement was being ignored. "It has no bearing in helping Zimbabwe arrive at an election which produces a credible result - and a government supported through that electoral process," Maharaj said.
In recent months Zuma and his facilitation team have been on the receiving end of hate speech by Zanu-PF hardliners who feel his stance on polls is working to the advantage of the MDC.
Professor Jonathan Moyo, a powerful Zanu-PF figure, has even called for the SADC to recall Zuma from the Zimbabwean mission.
He also insulted the facilitation team, headed by Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma's foreign policy adviser.
Zulu said Malema's views would not affect her team's work.