Parliament on Tuesday afternoon paid tribute to the Springboks following South Africa’s defeat of England, leading to the country’s third Rugby World Cup victory in Japan on November 2.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, however, made it clear when he took to the podium to discuss a draft resolution he proposes that he was not going to join other parties in the house in celebrating the win.
“Let’s deal with real issues,” he said.
He then read out his draft resolution, which would see parliament honouring late former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.
This would include acknowledging that Mugabe was one of the “most revolutionary and bravest of leaders produced by the African anti-colonial movement”; declaring him that President Robert Mugabe was “a devoted pan Africanist, a principled revolutionary, with unwavering commitment to the cause of the liberation of Africa and development of the African continent in a manner that puts African people first”; and acknowledging “that he stands head and shoulders above the rest in his commitment to resolve the timeless question of the return of African land back to African people, of the use of African wealth for the development of Africa”.
Malema also wants parliament to realise “that the fast track land reform programme in Zimbabwe remains a lodestar for all those still fighting for the return of the land.”
The Zimbabwean leader’s decision to move from a “willing buyer, willing seller” model of land reform to the programme mentioned by Malema, which involved the violent takeover of white-owned farms, was one of the most controversial parts of Mugabe’s legacy.
Malema also wants parliament to acknowledge that in his lifetime Mugabe “faced unimaginable attacks in the quest of the return of the land to African people, and that Zimbabwe was punished for daring to redefine itself as a sovereign nation”.
This is likely a reference to sanctions imposed on the country by bodies including the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as countries including the United States (US).
Malema also wants parliament to officially send “its condolences to the family of Robert Mugabe and to the people of Zimbabwe for whom Mugabe game all his life”.
Malema’s draft resolution was met with harsh criticism from former Democratic Alliance (DA) and Institute of Race Relations (IRR) employee Gareth van Onselen, who attacked the party for choosing to celebrate “a murderous thug who destroyed a country and brought misery to millions” rather than “a World Cup win and the resultant joy”.
“That’s the kind of unity the EFF wants: unity in economic misery,” he added.
Malema’s lack of enthusiasm over the World Cup victory echoes sentiments expressed by EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who called the celebrations which followed the win an example of false unity in one of a series of many tweets that have been met with controversy.