ZANU-PF and South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) are headed for a clash over revelations President Robert Mugabe’s party has pledged to fund a round-robin trip to the United Kingdom by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to attend a conference of African liberation movements in Birmingham this weekend.
Malema, an outspoken and charismatic figure in South Africa, is a darling of ZANU-PF because of his Black empowerment ideologies that resonate with ZANU-PF’s.
When he visited Harare in 2010, the charismatic ANC youth leader showered praises and waxed lyrical about ZANU-PF and its leader President Mugabe, much to the chagrin of the formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, peeved by what they considered as the ANC’s interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs by openly supporting their rivals.
Sources within ZANU-PF say some bigwigs in the party had pledged to take Malema to the UK where he is scheduled to address a gathering there on Saturday.
Other speakers at the event include pan Africanists: the historian Cecil Gutzmore, Sarudzayi Barnes, Anna Magowa, Makola Libango, lawyer and community organiser, Afryea Adofo.
The meeting, whose theme and motivation is: “An occasion when African people worldwide focus on the fight for total liberation and self determination”, was earlier scheduled to mark Africa Day.
Organisers of the meeting told an online publication that Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu had assured them that he will see to it that Malema gets the resources needed to fly to the UK, indicating that he would ensure that the South African youth leader would be provided for by ZANU-PF or individuals within the party.
One of the senior organisers, Bini Butuakwa, of West Indian origin, was quoted at the weekend confirming the ZANU-PF’s recent show of support to Malema.
“The Information Minister in Zimbabwe said that he will get him to come over and if he has a problem with paying he would cover the fare . . ,” he said, adding that at present Malema was still struggling to obtain a travel visa.
Contacted for comment, Shamu laughed off the allegations.
“This is the joke of the year. How can I fund him when my Ministry is struggling to fund trips to Muzarabani? Even in my personnal capacity in my constituency there are a lot of projects that need funding,” said Shamu.
ZANU-PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo also dismissed the reports saying his party did not have any money to waste.
“That is not true. It is absolute hogwash. We don’t have money to fund such things. Why would we fund a foreigner?” charged Gumbo, before telling this reporter to contact Shamu.
But confidential sources say officials at Luthuli House, the headquarters of the ANC, are seething with anger at their fellow comrades north of the Limpopo — ZANU-PF.
“The belief at Luthuli House is that some ZANU-PF officials are indirectly sponsoring Malema, materially and ideologically, to topple the ANC’s unpopular president, Jacob Zuma at the party’s elective congress to be held at Mangaung in December with a view to disengage him from the seat of power,” said a source.
ZANU-PF has been having it tough under Zuma who has become a stumbling block to the party’s survival strategies. Zuma has has been standing in the way of new election in Zimbabwe.
He has departed from his predecessor’s quiet diplomacy, spectacularly ridiculing President Mugabe and his team in his damning report presented at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held in Livingstone, Zambia in March last year. ZANU-PF, which is vehemently opposed to European imposed “political reforms,” views anyone opposed to its policies and line of thinking as either an enemy or agent of the imperialist west. The revolutionary party is therefore fed up with Zuma and has intimated that he must cease to be SADC’s facilitator in the Zimbabwe dialogue.
Intelligence and diplomatic sources say certain ZANU-PF officials have been backing Malema in his fight to push Zuma out of power but they have not been discreet enough to avoid a diplomatic furore.
ZANU-PF youths have openly supported Malema who is baying for Zuma and Gwede Mantashe’s head at the elective Mangaung in December. Mantashe is ANC’s secretary general.
Organisations such as Chama cha Mapinduzi youth of the ruling party of Tanzania, Cuban and youths from Botswana National Front — Gaborone’s main opposition — have also pledged their support to Malema after he was expelled from the ANC pending his appeal. His appeal has since been dismissed.
While Malema was pivotal to Zuma’s ascendancy, they fell out last year because of Malema’s high levels activism, which was undermining Zuma’s leadership. Malema has openly challenged the ANC’s policies, demeaned the party’s leadership, threatening nationalisation of mines and driving a wedge between governments particularly between Tshwane and Gaborone.
After the fall-out, Malema is now backing any other leader to replace Zuma, with deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe tipped to give the incumbent a good run for his money.
Malema’s strategy has not only found takers among a clique in ANC but in ZANU-PF as well which requires a pliant leader in Tshwane to shield itself from European aggression.
But observers say while ZANU-PF is a strong advocate of non-interference in the internal affairs of any sovereign state, the Malema debacle might strain relations between the two liberation movements.
Should Zuma win in December, relations between the two parties would be significantly strained yet if Malema prevails, South Africa could adopt policies that are more friendly and cohesive towards African integration.