By The Weekly Vision Team
The leader of South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, Julius Malema, once a close ally of President William Ruto, seems to have changed tune and is now one of the president’s many critics. The firebrand opposition leader never minced his words during the launch of the Pan African Institute at Lukenya University, throwing direct attacks at the leadership style of President Ruto and his many failed promises.
It is imperative to note that Mr Malema was among the first African leaders to congratulate President Ruto on his election victory last year and castigate Azimio leader Raila Odinga for not conceding defeat. Mr. Malema revealed that he called President Ruto to congratulate him. “This morning, I spoke to President-elect William Ruto and congratulated him for winning the democratic elections in Kenya.”
The Azimio coalition leadership did not take Malema’s sentiments positively and asked him to keep off Kenyan politics. It is, however, understood that Malema could not support Raila Odinga since he does not see eye to eye with Mr Odinga’s friend, President Cyril Ramaphosa. But what could have made Malema change his tune and attack Ruto’s leadership style while in Kenya? Where did he get the courage to attack the government of a country he was visiting? It is still a question that many struggle to answer, but it is highly suspected that Malema had hoped that William Ruto would partner with his EFF Party to benefit politically.
In his address, he has publicly claimed that nowadays he cannot locate William Ruto, meaning Ruto has cut off direct communication with him. Ruto is also said to be not very close to President Ramaphosa because of his close links with Raila Odinga.
The bitterness witnessed in Malema’s speech in Lukenya reveals that there is a deal that may have gone sour between him and Ruto or that what he had hoped to achieve is not forthcoming. Sources say Malema was plotting for William Ruto’s UDA Party to partner with his EFF, the same way the Jubilee Party, under the leadership of Uhuru Kenyatta, signed a partnership agreement with South Africa’s ANC in 2018. The Jubilee/ANC partnership happened during the tenure of Jacob Zuma as president. It was therefore Malema’s hope that by congratulating Ruto, he would form a working relationship between UDA and EFF, but that seems to have failed to materialise.
During his address, the fearless Malema criticised Ruto for failing to fulfil the promises he made to Kenyans in the run-up to the 2022 general election. He claimed that Ruto’s election promises vis-à-vis his actions as president are as distinct as day and night. “I don’t know if President William Ruto means it because he said so many things, and I can’t locate him these days because the things he said during the election and the things he’s doing now are two different things,” Malema said in his address.
Malema went ahead to slam President Ruto over the recent visit to Kenya by Britain’s King Charles III, during which he was hosted to a state banquet and accorded various high privileges befitting his status as royalty. However, according to Malema, the visit by King Charles III served no significance if he could not bring himself to offer a direct apology to the people of Kenya over the atrocities meted out to the people of Kenya by British soldiers during the colonial era.