Home » Governance » Malema Debate Called Off

Firebrand Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Mr Julius Malema’s planned visit to Zimbabwe, at the invitation of Alpha Media Holdings, spectacularly collapsed yesterday due to shambolic preparations and “extortionate” behaviour exhibited by the event organisers.

Mr Malema was expected to address about 300 businessmen and politicians at the Celebration Centre, in Harare.

Zimbabweans were being charged $100 to listen to Mr Malema under AMH’s “Game Changer” series debates where they invite prominent personalities.

Sources close to the organisation of the event yesterday said AMH received poor response from Zimbabweans who are not used to pay to listen to politicians.

It is also alleged that proper travel arrangements for the firebrand politician had not been made by yesterday.

The source said AMH, publishers of NewsDay, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard newspapers, wanted to boost its waning economic fortunes by convening the event.

Viability woes saw the company ceasing the publication of the Bulawayo-based Southern Eye last month with the paper now an insert in the NewsDay.

AMH is partly owned and funded by the New York-based Media Development Fund, which also supports Trevor Ncube’s Mail amp Guardian in South Africa.

AMH events manager Mbuso Harvey declined to comment on why Mr Malema’s visit had been cancelled saying a statement would appear in today’s NewsDay.

“I do not want to pre-empt it (the statement). It is coming in tomorrow’s NewsDay,” said Harvey.

However, online publications quoted AMH publisher Rita Chinyoka blaming the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa for the cancellation of the debate.

“Unfortunately, a large portion of the delegates who had registered for this event started pulling out following the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa,” Chinyoka is quoted as saying.

“It is most unfortunate that the timing of this event coincided with this situation and, therefore, we could not ignore the sentiments expressed.”

She said AMH hoped to host the event at a “more appropriate time in the near future”, and it believed that Mr Malema was “a worthy Game Changer that is pushing the limits of our thinking about democracy and citizen activism in Africa”.

According to an aertisement for the event, Mr Malema was expected to recount his story of “starting out his political career with the ANC at age of nine, his views and beliefs on African domination of the world and share his passion and support for underprivileged South African youths at a half-day conference in Harare”.

Questions about the recent xenophobic attacks were, however, expected to take centre stage.

Mr Malema was last in Zimbabwe in 2012 at the invitation of Zanu-PF when he was still the ANC Youth League leader.

Source : The Herald