Despite Zanu PF calling Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema a “puppet” of the west, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu believes his commander-in-chief was instrumental in getting the Zimbabwean government to grant the Mugabe family’s wishes of burying the country’s former leader in his ancestral home of Zvimba.
“The government of Zimbabwe has finally respected the last wishes of president Mugabe [and] the family to bury him in Zvimba. It took the courageous leadership of [Malema] to remind them of African tradition of respecting the wishes of the deceased,” tweeted the EFF second-in-command.
The Government of Zimbabwe has finally respected the last Wishes of President Mugabe & the family to bury him in Zvimba. It took the courageous leadership of CiC @Julius_S_Malema to remind them of African tradition of respecting the wishes of the deceased. pic.twitter.com/5pMRskEKbb
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) September 26, 2019
Shivambu is not alone in crediting Malema with influencing the Zanu PF government to respect Mugabe’s wishes, with the late Zimbabwean leader’s nephew, fellow politician Patrick Zhuwao, issuing a statement thanking Malema and the EFF for “assisting the family of the late president Mugabe to have his wishes honoured on where he would like his mortal remains to be interred”.
“After the family of the late president Mugabe expressed its desire to proceed with his burial in Zvimba, the government of Zimbabwe, in its press release dated 26 September 2019, indicated that it is cooperating with the family. The government of Zimbabwe will render all the necessary support to give the late president Mugabe a fitting burial led by the family,” said Zhuwao.
The statement also thanked other prominent SA politicians – President Cyril Ramaphosa, former president Thabo Mbeki, and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalaka – as well as Malema and the EFF – for celebrating Mugabe’s legacy during memorial services for him.
Malema may have earned praise for what he said during interviews in Zimbabwe from within his own party and from Zhuwao, but the country’s ruling party Zanu PF does not appear to share their enthusiasm.
According to Zimbabwean publication News Day, Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo last week branded Malema a “puppet” of the west and a “restless and careless” political novice after he took Grace Mugabe’s side – rather than that of President Emmerson Mnangagwa – at a press conference in Harare, while paying his respects to its late founding leader and her late husband, Robert Mugabe.
“Charlatans and figures of controversy need not disfigure such illustrious virtues which define the larger-than-life comrade RG Mugabe,” Moyo said.
Malema had accused Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF of having “tormented” Mugabe until his “last day”.
“[Grace Mugabe] must protect president Mugabe’s legacy with everything, against any form of opportunism which would want to ride behind the legacy of president Mugabe, even when they tormented him to the last day,” he said at a press conference in Harare, which can be seen in a video on Harare Live.
This echoes Zhuwao’s sentiments. At the EFF’s memorial service for Mugabe in Johannesburg, Zhuwao, a former minister in Zimbabwe, said Mugabe “did not die in Zimbabwe because of Emmerson Mnangagwa. [Zanu-PF] tormented him. They made him suffer and decided to call him a traitor. Now they want to pontificate over him. They did not want him in Zim”.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)