- EFF leader Julius Malema said he was never close to former president Jacob Zuma.
- Malema has been vocal about the imprisonment of Zuma, saying he should have been placed under house arrest rather than sentenced to 15 months in prison.
- Malema also spoke about the looting and riots, which he pinned on the ANC, labelling the ruling party as an ''illegitimate government".
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has said he has never been afraid of holding former president Jacob Zuma accountable.
"I was never close to president Zuma. The first time I went to Nkandla was the time I went to have tea. I have never had his cellphone number and I do not speak to him on the phone. If you were to compare the relationship I had with Zuma, I am closer with Cyril Ramaphosa than with Zuma," Malema said.
In an interview with Kaya FM on Tuesday, Malema, who has been vocal about Zuma's imprisonment, said the former president should have been placed under house arrest rather than sentenced to 15 months in prison.
"I held president Zuma accountable. You can have him in jail but not necessarily in a cell. You can put him under house arrest. You can have him at home. That is a punishment on its own. To spend money on an 80-year-old is a wasteful expenditure. You won't be useful anyhow," Malema said.
His interview came after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed, with costs, the EFF's application to have the bank statements of President Cyril Ramaphosa's CR17 ANC election campaign made public.
Malema said he was surprised by the outcome.
"I think our courts should defend public interests and we should always fight for transparency. When there's no crime being committed when you're a sitting president and your name is mentioned, surely people should know if their purses are safe. The president holds a very big influence and those who finance him, he develops a soft spot for them and in order to hold him accountable you have to know who are the people who are financing him. They could be the ones running the state," Malema said.
Malema was a fierce supporter of Zuma while he was ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president. In 2008, he vowed he would "kill for Zuma" and said the youth of South Africa would die supporting Zuma. But after Malema left the ANCYL and formed the EFF his tune changed.
"I never had such a relationship with Zuma. I worked with him, and we shared stages together. We met every Monday back then. It's strictly business," he said on Tuesday.
Unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal
Malema also spoke about the mass looting and riots which wreaked havoc in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal last week.
He blamed the unrest on the ANC, saying it was an "illegitimate government".
"I don't know why people vote for the ANC and then they want to complain to me. They have councillors they have elected. They have mayors they have elected. They have ministers they elected, and every time there's trouble, they look for Malema and when I speak, I am an irritation. The ANC could not handle civilian matters in a civil way. They call it an insurrection because they want to justify the soldiers on the ground."
Malema said the riots and unrest were not the result of an insurrection.
"It's a protest. Every revolution has elements of destruction to property. The soldiers are on the ground, and we are told it is a coup or an insurrection. None of that. This is an illegitimate government that bought its presidency," Malema said.
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