JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African President Jacob Zuma is putting the country on a "road directly to dictatorship," said an opposition leader who on Monday accused the president of manipulating state security.
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Zuma has compromised the country's police and intelligence services to maintain political power. In recent months, South Africa's police ministry, intelligence agency, National Prosecution Authority and tax revenue service have all been embroiled in political scandals, with opposition leaders accusing Zuma of using these departments to settle political scores.
"These issues ... happen as a result of the big elephant in the room, which is called the president," said Malema, who accused the president of trying to cover up his own graft. "This corrupt thief is the one that tampers with every single institution of the state."
Now known for his caustic criticism of South Africa's president, Malema was once one of Zuma's most vocal supporters. As the militant president of the ruling party's youth league, Malema said in 2008 that he would kill for Zuma, who was then the country's deputy president facing hundreds of corruption charges, which were later dropped.
"It was the most stupid thing I did, in my life, in the revolution, to support Zuma," said Malema, who formed the Economic Freedom Fighters when he was expelled from the African National Congress for ill-discipline.
Now the third largest party in parliament known for red berets to symbolize the party's leftist ideology, Malema said his party would continue to raise questions about upgrades worth about $20 million to Zuma's personal residence, because it is a symbol of the corruption that has come to characterize Zuma's rule.
Speaking to journalists, Malema also said he expected little from a forthcoming report from a judicial commission tasked with investigating the shooting and killing of more than 40 striking miners in 2013, because the commission was appointed by Zuma. He said he believed the report will be suppressed if it reflects negatively on Zuma's government.