JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has told President Robert Mugabe to stop “spitting” on Nelson Mandela’s grave and fix the mess he created in his own country.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe made the scathing remarks after Mugabe on two occasions told Zanu PF supporters that Mandela only negotiated for his freedom from jail and not for the economic emancipation of the majority black people.
Delivering the OR Tambo memorial lecture in Kwa-Thema in Ekurhuleni on Friday, Mantashe said Mugabe must leave the ANC alone and fix Zimbabwean problems.
“Zimbabwe should be very grateful to us…the media has reported there are two million Zimbabwean citizens in the country.
“The crisis in Zimbabwe is not something we have to research, we meet the crisis in the streets of Joburg.
“It is easy for him to insult me. But he can’t spit on Mandela’s grave.
“He can insult me, it’s okay. Even ANC members insult me through SMS and WhatsApp, what is different,” he said to loud cheers from party supporters.
Mantashe wrote to his Zanu PF counterpart Ignatius Chombo registering the ANC’s indignation with Mugabe’s comments.
After the complaint was lodged, Mugabe escalated the tiff by describing Mantashe’s comments on the matter as “stupid”.
“I made these remarks in regards to South Africa and Gwede stupidly reacted,” he said on Thursday.
“Yes, they only fought to remove apartheid, not for freedom and independence as we were doing.”
Mugabe and Mandela had a frosty relationship, with the South African liberation icon being very critical of the Zimbabwean leader’s human rights record.
Zimbabweans, estimated to be over a million, have sought refuge in South Africa over the years, escaping the spectacular collapse of the country’s economy blamed on Mugabe’s bad policies.
South Africa last week announced that it will give 200 000 Zimbabweans fresh work and residence permits for another four years so that they can continue eking out a living in that country.
Most of the beneficiaries of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit are economic refugees while other escaped political persecution at home.
— Citizen/Staff Reporter