RED TIDE:  Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema tears into President Jacob Zuma during the state of the nation debate in Parliament on Tuesday.  Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Julius Malema. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

FIKILE Mbalula advised Julius Malema not to campaign for Jacob Zuma to replace Thabo Mbeki as president. That’s according to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, who succeeded Mr Mbalula as African National Congress (ANC) Youth League president before moving into the opposition ranks.

"Mbalula called me from the mountain to say I must not participate in that process to remove Mbeki‚" Mr Malema told MPs in parliament on Tuesday in his response to the president’s state of the nation address.

"I had a meeting with Zuma where he told me that he does not want to work with President Mbeki. I led a charge in the removal (of Mbeki) after the meeting I had with Zuma after he said he doesn’t want to work with Mbeki.

"We apologise to Mbeki for standing behind Zuma. We tell president Mbeki that we were misled by this man (Zuma)."

Mr Malema also repeated an assertion that the extent of the wealthy Gupta family’s influence over government became evident to him when Mr Mbalula was appointed as SA’s sport and recreation minister.

"When I was a friend with the minister of sports‚ he received a call from the Guptas and they told him that he will be minister‚" Mr Malema said.

This was before Mr Zuma announced the decision and while Mr Mbalula was deputy minister of police. Mr Mbalula’s response to Mr Malema‚ shared via Twitter‚ was: "The info Julius dished today (yesterday) in his speech is not new‚ (it) is well known‚ public record."

Throughout yesterday’s proceedings, a morose Mr Zuma came under blistering attack, as opposition leaders raised his every indiscretion, from a love child to misleading Parliament over upgrades at his homestead at Nkandla, and called for him to leave office with dignity.

Clearly taking advantage of parliamentary privilege, Mr Malema launched an attack on Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and his counterpart in the North West, Supra Mahumapelo.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane accused Mr Zuma of living on "planet Zuma" — "a place in a parallel universe, far, far away from the lives of ordinary South Africans".

"Planet Zuma is a place where a swimming pool is called a fire pool. It is a place where all the continents of the world fit into Africa. It is a place where the finance minister flies economy class, but the president buys himself a R4bn jet.

"Planet Zuma is a place where a president can replace an excellent finance minister with a backbencher that nobody has ever heard of. It is a place where an international fugitive wanted for genocide is welcomed and given refuge," Mr Maimane said.

On planet Zuma there was no jobs crisis, which was why during the state of the nation address Mr Zuma did not mention the 8.3-million South Africans who were jobless, he said.

"Let me be clear: we came to listen to the president out of respect for the Constitution and the office he holds. But we did not come out of respect for Jacob Zuma. We cannot respect a man who puts himself and his rich friends first while the people of this country suffer."

The DA leader said that if Mr Zuma were an honourable man he would do the honourable thing and resign.

Mr Malema said he would not legitimise Mr Zuma’s presidency by debating the state of the nation address, but would speak to the people of SA.

Mr Malema said Mr Zuma should apologise to former president Nelson Mandela for allowing SA to be turned into a "junk country". He joined Mr Maimane in taking aim at the ANC benches over the Constitutional Court hearing on Nkandla.

Mr Maimane, referring to the recent Constitutional Court hearing, said to Mr Zuma: "You weren’t physically in the dock, but you may as well have been. You were on trial for subverting our Constitution, corrupting our Parliament, undermining the office of the public protector and violating your own oath of office."

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa asked Mr Zuma to help the country and design a dignified exit from office.

With Wyndham Hartley