Harsh critics of each other President Ian Khama and South Africa’s EFF leader Julius Malema have found something they at least agree on – their disdain of President Robert Mugabe’s continued stay in power. Both insist he has reached his sell-by date and now ought to retire. Malema this week described Mugabe as Grandpa and urged him to step down. This comes after Khama made the same request last year. He told Reuters then that President Robert Mugabe is too old and a burden to the Zimbabwean economy. “It is obvious that at his age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament," Khama said, in comments that breached an African diplomatic taboo of critising fellow leaders. The comment didn’t go well with Harare as Mugabe cancelled his trip to Botswana to attend the 50th Independence celebrations. Mugabe is regarded as one of the most respected statesman in Africa and his voice carries more weight at AU. Just when he had managed to ignore Khama’s call, Malema - who previously sang praises for Mugabe and became even close to some of his ministers – came scathing for him, describing him as ‘Grandpa Mugabe’ who has to step down.
EFF spokesman was equally dismissive of Mugabe and his cronnies. “What is revolutionary about being led by a person in old age?” That’s the question Zimbabwean ruling ZANU-PF and its youth wing must ask itself‚ the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Tuesday as quoted by TMG Digital. They must also ask themselves “what is revolutionary” and being led by a leader “who sleeps all the time in meetings‚ can no longer even hold a pen or write half a page”‚ Ndlozi said of President Robert Mugabe. This was in response to the ZANU-PF spokesman Psychology Maziwisa’s dismissal of EFF leader Julius Malema’s scathing comments on Monday‚ in which he called on “Grandpa Mugabe” to step down. Maziwisa said: “Not bothered at all by Julius Malema’s latest ranting. He is a little and irrelevant man who is trying desperately to gain political mileage in South Africa by insulting a great man in Zimbabwe. Won’t win!” Maziwisa reportedly posted on Facebook. Ndlozi shot back that both the “the ZANU-PF and its youth wing …are cowards”‚ and added that they are “afraid …of President Mugabe”. He was particularly scathing of the youth wing‚ saying it is “defending and advancing an essentially anti-youth statuesque”. “This is because there is actually no youth in the ZANU-PF Youth; what you find are middle age men and women‚ half of which are suffering from a mid-life crises. They should be ashamed of themselves for holding the future from being born in Zimbabwe.” He reiterated Malema’s stance‚ and said the party “reaffirms its position that President Mugabe's occupancy of the position of president is not good for the radical African political programme”. “He is the bastion of the reactionary phenomenon of ‘lead to the death’ that has crippled the image and praxis of post-colonial Africa. “President Mugabe is not only the contemporary engine of personality cult‚ but he is protected by a group of cowards around him who hypocritically defend him every day‚ whilst harbouring ambitions to lead soon.”
Khama, Malema rivalry
Though Khama and Malema have found a common ground on Mugabe, they have not always agreed with their stand-off culminating with the banning of Malema from Botswana. Malema remains one of the only few South Africans who is expected to apply for a VISA for entering Botswana. This came after he called for the toppling of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government on grounds that it was in cohorts with imperialists and hence wanting in pro-African agenda. He made claims that Botswana was hosting an American military base. Khama’s response was swift, immediately declaring Malema almost an enemy of state who was unwelcome. He labeled Malema an undisciplined child who needed to be brought into line. [Source: TMG Digital, The Patriot on Sunday]