South African Leaders Stop Singing 'Hate' Song
April 08, 2010JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- South Africa's governing party said Wednesday it has asked all its wings to stop singing controversial songs including one with lyrics that encourage people to shoot White farmers which some blame for the slaying of a White supremacist leader.
The African National Congress has rejected any link between the song and Saturday's killing of Eugene Terreblanche, but nevertheless made the decision at a meeting Tuesday as leaders seek to calm racial tensions and quell fears ahead of the first World Cup soccer tournament to be held in Africa.
Terreblanche's slaying has drawn attention to South Africa as one of the world's crime hotspots, with some 50 murders a day in a population of nearly 50 million and a rising number of car hijackings and rape.
Members of Terreblanche's extremist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging movement, better known as the AWB, have blamed ANC youth league leader Julius Malema and his singing of the song with the lyrics “shoot the boer” for inciting the killers.
Boer means farmer in Afrikaans, the language of descendants of early Dutch settlers, but also is used as a derogatory term for Whites.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a news conference his party wanted “to clarify the hullabaloo about us gagging Julius Malema.” Beeld newspaper Wednesday quoted Mantashe as saying that he and President Jacob Zuma had ordered Malema to stop singing the song.
“In view of the environment currently prevailing in our country, all of our structures, all our structures, not Julius, not so and so, all the structures of the ANC must restrain themselves,” Mantashe said. He said he also spoke with the heads of the Women's League and the Veteran's League, though neither is known for singing the song.
“The structures were also asked by the officials to be circumspect in singing liberation songs that have words that can be seen and be interpreted to be contributing to racial polarization of society,” said a statement issued at the conference.
It was not clear if the new directive would apply to President Zuma's signature anthem from the apartheid era -- “Bring me my machine gun” -- which also has offended some South Africans.
For months the ruling party had resisted calls by opposition parties to reign in Malema.
Malema has fueled controversy by refusing to abide by a court's temporary interdiction on his singing of the song, which the court ruled was hate speech and unconstitutional.
The ANC still is challenging that ruling in court with its argument that the song is part of its cultural heritage and that the lyrics -- which also speak of White farmers as thieves and rapists -- refer to those who supported apartheid and now oppose democracy.
The new directive came Tuesday, the same day a magistrate's court charged a 15-year-old and a 28-year-old farm worker with Terreblanche's murder.
The accused were not asked to plead and the case has been adjourned to April 14.
A racially charged standoff outside the courthouse ended peacefully, in what many consider a victory for democracy in South Africa.
Still the older suspect was feted by blacks outside the court who hailed him as a hero when he walked out of the courthouse and into a police van, celebrating the death of the man who once was convicted of beating one of his farm workers so badly the man was left brain damaged.
Terreblanche's AWB initially threatened to avenge his death but on Monday retracted, saying it renounces all violence.