Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says his friendship with EFF leader Julius Malema is real and solid, despite their political differences.
“My political opponents are not my enemies. My enemies are those who want to destroy my country and make it start afresh, those are my enemies,” Mbalula said in an interview with Radio 702 on Thursday.
He added: “Julius is my friend, we lived together for a long time and we transcended comradeship to become friends. I know his family, he knows my family, and he knows my wife and I know his wife. I know his kids, he knows my kids. Me and Julius we are friends.”
The flamboyant ANC politician, who knew Malema during his days as a member of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) before his expulsion from the party in 2012, said they may differ on their political views but they remain close nevertheless.
But there’s an exception to their friendship – they don’t discuss politics when they get together.
“He understands that I’m an ANC member and in political terms, I can’t ask him to do things as they used to when he was in the ANC. And I can’t also ask him in terms of the EFF, but we are friends. We have a drink together and we meet from time to time.
“Me and Julius, you won’t believe this, we rarely discuss politics when we are together.
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“We talk about life, laugh, and reminisce about the past because we shared a good friendship, and that still remains. It was buttered that friendship to a certain extent but it’s durable because it never dies, it’s still there. But I don’t agree with the EFF on certain things and politically. And he doesn’t agree with the ANC where he is.”
Mbalula said if he had to defend the ANC, he would, but he admitted that the party had its own flaws when it comes to defending its leaders without question.
“I will defend the ANC to the best of my ability and admit to its mistakes and work to change its weaknesses over time.
“This notion that we are infallible – we can’t be criticised, people can’t see wrong in us and we must defend even the indefensible – it’s over.
“I’ve been there where I defend things that I shouldn’t have defended. And I say today moving forward, I’m a changed person. I’m shaped by the conditions of my people and I’ve learned from our mistakes. That’s how you march on.”