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Zimbabwe Visit by ANC Firebrand Malema Ends Amid Racial Crisis in South Africa

  • Scott Bobb
  • Thomas Chiripasi

African National Congress firebrand Julius Malema kept a a low profile as he left Zimbabwe late Monday after a three-day visit, canceling a scheduled news conference blaming trip organizers for confusion about flights

South African President Jacob Zuma and other officials continued Monday to try to defuse racial tensions after the murder on Saturday of white supremacist Eugene Terre'blanche, who was killed by two black workers in what reports said was a dispute over pay.

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb in Johannesburg reported on the crisis in South Africa which threatened to overshadow preparations for the World Cup of soccer to kick off there in June.

African National Congress firebrand Julius Malema kept a a low profile as he left Zimbabwe late Monday, canceling a scheduled news conference blaming trip organizers for confusion about flights for his delegation though he spoke briefly with reporters following a meeting with President Robert Mugabe.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported that Malema rejected the notion that his anti-white declarations had anything to do with the murder of Terre'Blanche. South African opposition parties said Malema's references to the liberation song "Shoot the Boer" qualified as hate speech and had helped stoke interracial tensions.

Malema’s three-day visit to Zimbabwe stirred strong feelings on both sides of the border. The Zimbabwe National Students Union and members of other youth organizations said he had no place advocating policies for Zimbabwe given allegations of corruption at home and his excesses of speech along racial lines.

Malema's statements while in Zimbabwe sparked fear in South Africa that it could follow Zimbabwe down the pathway of chaotic land reform through the seizure of white property. South Africa’s Sunday Times ran the headline “Malema gets cosy with ZANU-Pf sharks” a reference to Mr. Mugabe's former ruling party.

South African-based Zimbabewan political analyst Ozias Tungwarara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Malema's statements don’t necessarily reflect official ANC policy as the youth wing of the ruling party has some independence.

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