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‘Mugabe must learn from Castro and pass on the baton’

Leader of South Africa’s opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, has said President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, must learn from Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba, he must hand over power.

Malema said even though the EFF loved Mugabe, it was time that the 92-year-old does what Castro did eight years ago, handing over political power after almost four decades at the top. ‘‘We love President Mugabe, but we need a new leader. Mugabe must pass on the baton just as Castro passed it on,’‘ he said.

Malema’s call came at a memorial service held by the EFF in Soweto for the leader of the Cuban revolution. Mugabe and South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, were among leaders who attended the funeral of Castro in Havana.

We love President Mugabe, but we need a new leader. Mugabe must pass on the baton just as Castro passed it on.


Malema’s position is a deviation from views he expoused barely a year ago when he praised the Zimbabwean leader as an African revolutionary who continued to ‘‘lead a party that advocates for very radical economic policies in Zimbabwe”.

“President Mugabe is the only leader who knows for the real change to come, Africans will have to go through the necessary pain, exactly what Zimbabweans are going through now,” he is quoted as saying a little over a year ago.

Malema in his bullish posturing also linked the means of honouring Castro to taking back lands, a campaign he has led in the recent past. He has led his party to demand the return of lands to blacks and has been charged to court for inciting violence.

Malema said, the EFF saluted revolutionaries like Castro, Nkrumah, Mandela, Mugabe and all people who dared to stand up to imperialism and neo colonialism.

Mugabe is the only president that Zimbabwe has had since independence in 1980. His party, the ZANU-PF, have confirmed that he will run for office again in the 2018 presidential election.

Mr Castro stepped down in 2006 after ruling Cuba for 47 years. His brother, Raul Castro took the leadership after Fidel stepped down. In the case of Zimbabwe, issues of succession have come up now and again with a huge infighting between party members.

Recently, Mugabe expressed concerns about the jostling for his position whiles he was still alive. He is reported to have said that if he has to leave, he will do so properly. The southern African country has been suffering from an economic crisis and acute drought.

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