By Carien du Plessis, 10 January 2014

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema yesterday said that struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela should succeed President Jacob Zuma.

He claimed she had warned him against supporting Zuma as far back as 2007.

Addressing journalists at a press conference in central Johannesburg, Malema said: “Winnie has a special place in the heart of the EFF for staying true to the revolution.”

He said she should be “either president or deputy president. After all this mess, we must make her president so that we can have a cooling off period [following Zuma’s presidency] led by an elder.”

He denies trying to recruit her for the EFF, but instead said she should be the one recruiting him.

“I will never recruit Winnie, Winnie can recruit me, because if I was to recruit Winnie that would be undermining of her and what she is representing,” he said.

He added that he knew her as a “grandmother” and grew up under her roof.

He claimed she called him in 2007 and warned him against supporting Zuma’s bid to be elected ANC president in Polokwane.

The ANC Youth League, then led by Fikile Mbalula, was one of Zuma’s fiercest supporters.

“I was not taking her calls when we supported Zuma. She said, my son you’re messing up. The second call I didn’t take, I just ran away. I took a decision and went forward with it. She warned and said you are messing up, and this is going to create a permanent crisis which you, the creators of this crisis, will have to resolve.

“Part of what we are doing here [as EFF] is to correct what we did wrong to the people of South Africa, and we are going to correct that in our lifetime,” he said.

Malema added that Madikizela-Mandela again tried to warn against support for Zuma in the run-up to the ANC’s congress in Mangaung last year.

“All of us decided to ignore that voice of wisdom, and today all her warnings proved to be correct, she is the kind of person we should not ignore.”

He said the ANC was no longer what it was under Nelson Mandela, because Mandela’s party wouldn’t have killed the miners in Marikana, or built a R206 million home with taxpayers’ money.