Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has called for the “removal” of Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa until “they restore human rights in that country.”
Writing on Twitter on Monday, Malema said if this does not happen, the EFF would prevent Zimbabwean government officials from participating in gatherings in South Africa.
He was reacting to widespread protests in Zimbabwe over the past several days against corruption and economic stagnation as well as the government’s apparent heavy-handed response.
At least 11 activists, including renowned author Tsitsi Dangarembga and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, were arrested on Friday last week as they demanded the release of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. They have since been released.
Malema on Zimbabwe
The unequivocal comments of Malema on Zimbabwe are seemingly an escalation of his back-and-forth with the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa.
Last week, the EFF criticised Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government for signing a compensation deal with white farmers whose land was expropriated in the early 2000s.
Under the agreement, the government committed to pay the farmers $3.5 billion, which the government hopes to raise in the international bond market.
The EFF accused Mnangagwa of “desecrating the legacy of [former President] Robert Mugabe “from whom it violently took power in an unprincipled coup.”
“Mnangagwa will be remembered as a clueless ideological amoeba who was prepared to trade off important gains of the struggle in order to be liked by whites. We deeply condemn this act of betrayal by Mnangagwa and call on ordinary Zimbabweans to reject this wasteful use of money that should be directed towards hospitals in Zimbabwe,” it added.
However, the Zimbabwean embassy slammed the EFF’s “misinformed position on the land question in Zimbabwe” in a hard-hitting statement over the weekend.
It explained that the compensation is not for the expropriated land, but for “improvements effected on it before its acquisition.”
“It is our expectation that the EFF and others who may wish to comment on the land issues in Zimbabwe do so from an informed, objective and constructive standpoint that respects the people of Zimbabwe’s struggles and sacrifices for their land and contributes to the unity and progress of the country,” the embassy added.
More Zimbabwe news
The EFF waded deeper in Zimbabwe news in a statement on Monday by describing the embassy and ZANU-PF leaders as “paranoid and misguided.” It accused the Zimbabwean government of declaring the people “enemies” and deploying the military to “suppress genuine protest.”
The party added, “We find it condescending that a diplomat, deployed to the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa, has taken it upon himself to descend into the political arena with the EFF.
“As much as the EFF encourages engagement of its policy positions, it is not the duty of an ambassador, who is here to sustain relations between two sovereign governments, to engage in a political tussle with domestic political parties.”