BULAWAYO – Millions of Zimbabweans based in South Africa should go home and vote to end the “nonsense” in their country, South African opposition leader Julius Malema said on Wednesday.
South Africa will always be “home” for Zimbabwe’s economic migrants, the Economic Freedom Fighters leader said, but they also should actively take part in bringing change at home.
A prosperous Zimbabwe “is a solution to the problems of South Africa,” he said.
“Zanu PF has destroyed what was a promising land of Zimbabwe and the current leader of Zimbabwe (Emmerson Mnangagwa) is clueless like the South African leader (Cyril Ramaphosa). They are the same, like they are twins,” Malema said, speaking during a Freedom Day rally in Pretoria.
“So to the people of Zimbabwe, we want to make a plea, please when you are here in South Africa don’t worry, when you are here you are home, but when there are elections at home go there in your numbers. Go and vote and remove that nonsense that is happening in Zimbabwe and come back if you want to come back. You cannot just fold your hands.”
Malema initially offered support to Mnangagwa when he seized power from the late Robert Mugabe in a military coup in 2017, but he has become a strident critic of the 79-year-old leader after he failed to live up to his promises.
Zimbabweans continue to pour into South Africa looking for economic opportunities amid rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Africa’s most industrialised nation. Between one and three million Zimbabweans – many of them undocumented – are thought to be living in South Africa, which South African officials say is putting a strain on social services.
“The people of Zimbabwe must rise here in South Africa and go and vote for a proper government in Zimbabwe,” said Malema. “If they want to come back they’re welcome, no problem, but let’s help each other so that there is proper government in Zimbabwe and we will bring a proper government in South Africa, we become a big family.”
Malema said Zimbabweans should “not be comfortable and think all is well as along as we are in South Africa.”
“Let us not forget as Zimbabweans that we have got a duty at home to deliver a progressive government that will respect human rights, that will make sure the economy of Zimbabwe grows, that will make sure it defeats poverty and unemployment because a progressive and developing Zimbabwe is a solution to the problems of South Africa. We want to Africans who are helping themselves.”
Mnangagwa’s regime has refused to grant voting rights to Zimbabweans living abroad. The process of voting will require Zimbabweans living in foreign countries to register as voters first, and then be physically present on election day to cast their ballots.