HARARE – Julius Malema travelled to Zimbabwe on Monday to pay his condolences to former president Robert Mugabe’s family.
Malema, leader of South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), did not speak to journalists at the Robert Mugabe International Airport and was whisked to Mugabe’s sprawling Borrowdale residence known as the ‘Blue Roof’.
Malema and three other members of the EFF, including spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, immediately went into a closed-door meeting with President Mugabe’s widow, Grace, and other family members.
Earlier, the independent MP for Norton Temba Mliswa said he had gone to pay his respects to the Mugabes but was advised that the former first lady was not present at the residence.
Mugabe died in Singapore at the age of 95 on September 6.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has revealed that Mugabe died from advanced prostrate cancer after treatment was discontinued due to old age.
The EFF held a memorial for Mugabe in Soweto on September 12 where it invited Mugabe’s exiled nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, and former minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
In a tribute, Malema said Mugabe was a “hero of the people” and had remained so “to the grave”.
“President Mugabe will be remembered as a hero because, even when he was in office, he never compromised fundamentals. Amongst those fundamentals was the ownership of the land. It was under him that the indigenous people of Zimbabwe were beginning to own strategic sectors of the economy,” Malema said.
Mugabe’s body is believed to be at the Blue Roof residence. The government and the family, after much wrangling, finally agreed that he would be buried at the National Heroes Acre in a mausoleum whose construction could take at least a month.
However, some chiefs from Mugabe’s rural home district of Zvimba, supported by some members of the family, are reportedly rowing back from that agreement and want a traditional burial for Mugabe at an as-yet undetermined location – likely to be his childhood village of Kutama.