Today, one of the most incredulous remarks by an ANC spokeswomen sparked my interest to such an extent that I felt the need to share it. The remark was from a story about a ban being placed on Julius Malema’s ‘Shoot the Boer’ liberation song. For anyone who has followed South African politics recently, they have undoubtedly come across stories describing Malema’s use of the song to fire up his supporters, often appealing to them using populist and racist speech. Malema of course defends all of this by saying that he is simply using a song from the time of liberation (despite the fact that he was only 9 years old when Apartheid began to fall), and that he does not intend to spark race based violence. Malema is in deeper trouble these days, with his membership in the ANC under review, yet the ANC still felt the need to contradict this ruling.
After Malema used the song at a number of rally’s over the past few years, the group AfriForum, an Afrikaans interest group, brought a suit against his use of the song to Equality Court. The court banned the use of the song yesterday with the judge saying
…that singing of the song was “discriminatory and harmful” to the Afrikaner community and said on Monday “there was no justification for singing the words”. “The words undermine their dignity, are discriminatory and harmful [to Afrikaners]” he said, citing the Promotion of Unfair Discrimination and Equality Act.
This seems pretty reasonable finding to an outside observer (see the lyrics here), especially in a society where race, poverty, and unemployment are so intertwined. In a society that has dealt with race to an extent that no other country in the world has, keeping hate speech in check would seemingly be a pretty important thing for the ruling party so as to not to alienate non-black businesses but more importantly so as not to create a populist movement that the ANC may have no control over.
“The question we must also put to South Africa is how serious is a complaint by an interest group as small as AfriForum that it begins to make South African law change and changes the history of this country.”
For a women who was part of the Liberation Movement from its early days, and who served as special assistant to Mandela to say that small interest groups can’t make an impact on the law and history of a country smacked me as the ultimate hypocrisy. How many times were those same thoughts spoken by white National Party MPs during the 50s, and 60s and 70s, making the case that Black South Africans were not citizens and thus needed no representation, or that society should not be changed to appease uncultured Black South Africans? For a true member of the liberation movement (as opposed to the wanna-be ‘comrade’ Malema) to suggest that minority rights do not have any consequence in South Africa concerns me greatly.
It is really frightening to see how far the ANC has wandered from it’s ideals of non-racialism. All those South Africans who still hold this ideal despite being faced with consistent unemployment, lack of service fulfillment, and racialized politics should work to ensure that Malema does not become the future of South Africa.