Although the EFF loves Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, it’s time for the long-serving president to go, its leader Julius Malema says.

“We love Robert Mugabe for who he is, although we accept it’s time for him to step down,” Malema told crowds gathered in Soweto on Wednesday.

The EFF held a memorial service in honour of Cuban leader Fidel Castro who died on Friday at the age of 90.

The red berets’ commander-in-chief said he would constantly raise the Cuban issue as they believed the suppression of people on the island state by outside forces was unjust.

The United States imposed a financial, economic and commercial embargo on Cuba in 1962.

This was due to fear that the region would become a Soviet Union base and that Cuba would try to spread communism throughout the region.

The two countries last year reopened embassies in each others’ capitals. Americans can also now travel more freely to Cuba and bring back limited amounts of consumer goods such as cigars and rum.

“Like [Nelson] Mandela, like [Mangaliso Robert] Sobukwe, like [Chris] Hani. Castro to us was like [Steve] Biko, like Winnie Mandela. Castro to us is like Robert Mugabe,” said Malema.

When people are friends they tell each other the truth, he added.

Malema said Mugabe had to step aside in order to save the Zimbabwean revolution.

“Like Castro did, handing over power to his brother, President Mugabe must do the same.”

Zimbabwe needs a new progressive leader who will continue the legacy of Mugabe.

“We are not ashamed of Robert Mugabe’s legacy. The legacy of taking the land,” said Malema.

He said the land repossessed by Mugabe’s government from white farmers in Zimbabwe belonged to the people of Zimbabwe, “in the same way the land belongs to the indigenous people of South Africa”.

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