Former ANC Youth League President Julius Malema believes President Jacob Zuma is not the right person to be the SADC mediator in Zimbabwe because 'he hates Robert Mugabe.'
Malema told the state controlled weekly Sunday Mail that Zuma hated Mugabe and his ZANU PF party because of their support for former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
'He has very strong views about President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF. All you see is very pretentious and it's not helpful at all,' Malema said in the interview, which saw the Sunday Mail travel to Johannesburg to cover the story.
His comments have been described by analysts as an attempt to put a wedge between Zuma and Mugabe but they have been dismissed as a non- event by the South African President's foreign policy advisor.
Lindiwe Zulu told SW Radio Africa that any attempt to force Zuma to step down as mediator, by vilifying or concocting stories to try to force issues, will not work.
'To be honest we don't comment on such issues (Malema' statement) but what I want to tell you is that our road is straightforward as far as the mediation process in Zimbabwe is concerned.
'Right now, our facilitation team is waiting for a go-ahead to fly to Harare and meet the negotiators who are busy working now to try and resolve issues in Zimbabwe,' Zulu said.
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga confirmed that the negotiators from all parties in the GPA were meeting in Harare to finish revising the final draft of the constitution.
'We're starting from where we left off last week and hope to finish this document soon,' Matinenga said. The group met incommunicado in Nyanga last week and dealt with first six of the 18 chapters in the draft charter. It is expected they might work on all the remaining chapters this week.
When this happens, they will give Zuma the green light to assess the country's readiness for an election, which could take place next year. The GPA negotiators, together with Zuma's facilitation team, will meanwhile have to prepare an exhaustive agenda as the anticipated trip could turn-out to be a make-or-break indaba.
Two years ago ZANU PF invited Malema to Harare where he was treated to a lavish lifestyle. He held a series of meetings with ZANU PF and capped off his trip by meeting Mugabe.
South African based political analyst Luke Zunga said utterances by Malema through the state media could have been a plot by ZANU PF to use it against Zuma in order to collapse the constitution making process.
'The plan, which by all standards looks amateurish, was to present SADC with the information suggesting Zuma hates Mugabe and therefore cannot be impartial in his mediation process.
'We all know ZANU PF has been against Zuma and will do everything to pull him down, including using the discredited Malema to further their agenda,' Zunga said.
He continued: 'The problem with that is Malema is of less relevance in South Africa now. He is out of the ANC and so if he is speaking he's probably doing so on behalf of ZANU PF. That rant was a stunt to get people talking about his continued existence on this planet. It won't cause any diplomatic rift between South Africa and Zimbabwe but it will obviously raise a few eyebrows between the ANC and ZANU PF.'
Others believe Malema' statement reflected the 'mistake of one man, and not of the South African state.' Obert Gutu, the MDC-T deputy Minister of Justice, took to the social networking site, Facebook to take a dig at Malema.
'I have stated it before and I will repeat it here and now...one Julius Malema should go back to school. This boy is content free, an empty vessel making a lot of noise. President Jacob Zuma will be re-elected as ANC leader in Mangaung in Dec 2012 whether or not Malema likes it,' Gutu said.