The ongoing unhappiness for some Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in KwaZulu-Natal continues, as the King Cetshwayo region’s Bheki Shabane and his supporters refuse to back down on a demand for EFF leader Julius Malema to apologise to their king.
The EFF has said Shabane is not the area’s regional chairperson, as he claims, and disputes that he’s even a member, but Shabane told Zululand Observer this month: “I’m not going anywhere. I’m still a member of the EFF and I still insist that Malema must apologise to our king.”
The Zululand Observer now reports that Shabane and other disgruntled EFF in the region have taken the decision to suspend all their political activities until Malema apologises for what they consider an “insult” to King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Shabene revealed this during a meeting held with Zulu chiefs last weekend. They had earlier warned their president not to set foot in the province until he’d apologised to Zwelithini.
In March, Malema criticised Zwelithini for allegedly fanning black-on-black violence with his statements about the expropriation of land without compensation. Malema, who said he feared nobody, last month urged chiefs to fight anyone who attempted to expropriate land controlled by the Ingonyama Trust. The king is the patron of the trust.
Zwelithini, however, said anyone who tried to interfere with the land under his jurisdiction would face the wrath of the Zulus in a war similar to that waged by the Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem. He added that Zulus were as attached to their land as Muslims were to Mecca.
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His comments, made during the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and later the provincial house of traditional leaders, sparked fears that Zulus could interpret it as a licence to attack those associated with land expropriation, particularly the EFF.
Malema warned Zwelithini to desist from threatening violence.
“The Zulu king must stop these threats of violence. We are not scared. I am scared of no one. No amount of violence can scare me because some of us are surprised that we are still alive today,” he said.
“Let us not talk war, let us not beat the war drum. We love the Zulu king, but we must discuss issues openly even if we disagree with the king.
“We have never promised war on the Zulu king. We have never promised war on the whites. No one is talking war here. We are saying let us have a peaceful engagement,” he said.
Malema said Zwelithini must be aware that any action that pitted blacks against blacks was unacceptable.
“We want every Zulu-speaking person to get a piece of land. If the king wants to give land through the Ingonyama Trust, he must convince the EFF and the government,” Malema said.
He also accused the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal of tip-toeing around the issue of land expropriation without compensation, despite the ANC national conference resolving in December to implement the policy.
He claimed this contradicted the ANC’s December conference decision.
In early April, concerned EFF members Thandizwe Mthembu, Eugene Khumalo, Shabane and Nhlanhla Biyela told Malema: “We wish to advise him not to set his foot in this province, unless he humbles himself before His Majesty and apologises unreservedly.”
The EFF in uThungulu later distanced itself from the statements. uThungulu’s regional EFF convener, Rebecca Mohlala, claimed Shabane was not an official of EFF “in any structures, regional, provincial or national” and that if he had anything to say, he knew to “follow the internal processes of the organisation”.
“Mr Shabane is not even a member of EFF because his membership expired and was never renewed.”