Mandela approach versus Malema approach

2011-09-12 23:15
Johannesburg - Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said on Monday that his party hoped a judgment by Judge Collin Lamont ruling that singing of the words "shoot the boer" amounted to hate speech would be the first step in getting the country "out of the swamp of hate speech and racism".

AfriForum Youth opened a civil case against Malema in the Equality Court after he sang the words "dubhula ibhunu", which translate to "shoot the boer", at a number of ANC Youth League gatherings last year.

"The contrast between the Mandela approach after 1994 and the Malema approach the past year, shouted out for an adjustment," said Mulder.

He said it was a "pity" the matter had had to be brought before a court.

"In this regard, the judge's decision is a serious charge against the African National Congress which allowed this case to get out of hand and develop so far before a correction was made from outside the ANC," Mulder said.

Earlier on Monday Judge Lamont said that "dubhula ibhunu" (shoot the boer) undermined the dignity of people and were discriminatory and harmful.

"No justification exists allowing the words to be sung... the words were in any event not sung on a justifiable occasion."

Lamont said it was not relevant whether the words were not exposed to some people of society.

"If it is exposed to a portion of society then it is relevant."

Deep divisions

Lamont's ruling triggered a raft of divided responses.

The ruling ANC came out in opposition to his judgment, saying  it was appalled by the decision.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the party viewed the judgment as an attempt to rewrite the South African history which is not desirable and unsustainable.

"This ruling flies against the need to accept our past and to preserve our heritage as an organisation and as a people.

"... we will explore every possibility to defend our history, our heritage and our traditions," he said.

Other organisations with links to the ANC towed the same line - that the ruling impinged on their traditions.

Cosatu said the decision was a "gross insult" to the country's past, and that Malema's singing of "dubhula ibhunu", like many other liberation songs, was never intended literally.

It was rather a symbol of the black majority's anger and frustration.

"The judgment that the song is 'discriminatory' and 'harmful' is a gross insult to our history as a country," the Congress of SA Trade Unions said in a statement.

It said the song was never directed at individual white South Africans, but rather at a class of land barons who "brutally exploited" black workers.

Collective memory

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said songs played an important role in remembering the anti-apartheid struggle.

"We are firmly of the view that organs of class rule - the courts - should not be used to re-write our history of struggles and liberation against the repressive regime," said Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese.

"There are no blank pages in history. Struggle songs are our collective memory," he said.

"We believe there is deep hatred and irritations in some sections of our society towards ANCYL president Julius Malema, and the song 'dubhula ibhunu' should not be confused with that," Ngobese said.

"People should contest the ideological outlook or posture of the ANCYL president and leave our struggle songs alone."

The SA Communist Party said Malema had been taken to court by rightwing fanatics bent on re-writing the country's past.

The Social Movement Against Racist Tendencies (Smart) said it would immediately petition Lamont to provide the basis for his findings and join any parties which intended appealing the case.

"This is not a judgment against Malema, but against our history. If some individuals can still call our people kaffirs and allow others to sing 'De la Rey' then this judgment is laughable," said Panyaza Lesufi, the founding leader of Smart.

The song "De La Rey", written and performed by Bok van Blerk, is thought to be named after General Koos de la Rey, who was a Boer general during the second Anglo-Boer War.

It is about a desperate Boer soldier who, in the face of his own death and the destruction of the Afrikaner nation, calls on De La Rey to lead his people to victory.

Defiant

A crowd broke into singing "dubhula ibhunu", (shoot the boer) at the South Gauteng High Court after the words were declared hate speech on Monday.

"We are not scared," sang another group.

In spite of contravening a court order, nobody was apprehended among the group of singers.

Judge Lamont ordered that the words not be used publicly or privately.

An ANCYL member said after the ruling: "When we sing these songs, we sing about history not about racism. I don't understand why he was guilty. We sing about the history of the ANC, there is no racism".

Culture of disrespect

Lobby rights group AfriForum, whose youth movement opened the civil case against Malema, led applause for the ruling.

The group's CEO Kallie Kriel said: "We are elated about the judgment as we knew all along that this was hate speech."

He said the ruling was a victory for the concept of mutual respect and dignity in communities over what he described as the culture of disrespect Malema was sowing.

"Should he try to take this on appeal, we will take this matter on. We have beaten him twice in court already," Kriel said.

The Christian Democratic Party said that the ANC should share some of the blame, as the party "went full out" to support Malema in this case.

CDP leader Theunis Botha said it was hoped the ANC would "make haste" in removing Malema as president of the ANCYL.

He said Malema had proven time and again that he was not fit to play a positive role in the country's future.

First step

Afrikanerbond secretary Jan Bosman said he trusted that the ruling was the first step in curbing racism and forcing political and public figures to be "responsible and careful".

"The race-card... is now regularly played. The inevitable consequence is that the broad South African society is becoming more race-based and divided."

Racism "in whatever colour and whatever form" had to be rejected.

Bosman said the next step was for the SA Human Rights Commission to evaluate and assess Malema's pronouncements within the context of the Bill of Rights.

Farmers' union TAU-SA said the ANC and its youth should accept the judgment.

"The time has come to stop fighting... and respect cultural groups and [different] races," its president Louis Meintjes said.

"The judgment... has vindicated TAU-SA in its attempt to erase hate speech from South African society and contribute to put an end to violent victimisation of farmers and farm dwellers."

In light of the ruling, TAU-SA called on the government to pay attention to violent crimes on farms and smallholdings.

Meintjes asked the government to consider setting up a dedicated unit to act against the perpetrators and maintain a database of farm attacks.

Keeping mum

The ANC Youth League, however, chose to remain silent on the outcome.

Malema was not present for the judgment, and his spokesperson Floyd Shivambu would not comment on the judgment or say where Malema was.

"No we are not speaking," Shivambu said.

The organisation said it would study the judgment and consult with the ANC and other fraternal organisations before commenting.

- SAPA
Read more on:    afriforum  |  tau-sa  |  sacp  |  cosatu  |  anc  |  afrikanerbond  |  numsa  |  ancyl  |  louis meintjes  |  floyd shivambu  |  castro ngobese  |  bok van blerk  |  julius malema  |  pieter mulder  |  kallie kriel  |  hate speech
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