We should be South African first - ANCYL
Johannesburg - The hate speech case against ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was addressing a symptom in South African society and not a problem of race, league secretary general Vuyiswa Tulelo said on Tuesday.
"The question is whether indeed South Africa is a non-racial society. We are dealing with the symptom not the cause," she told media at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
Tulelo said the race question emerged at the "slightest provocation", adding that many South Africans identified themselves first by their racial group.
"We should be South African first," she said.
Malema was being sued for hate speech in the Equality Court over his singing of a struggle song containing the words "shoot the boer".
Tulelo said the case was not about Malema, an individual, it was about "trying to completely erode the history" of people in South Africa. She said the case may mean that the use of the word "apartheid" could be challenged because it offended white people, or "ANC" because it was believed to be an organisation of "terrorists".
The case should be used to "educate" South Africans as the song was used to raise political consciousness.
Tulelo was speaking at a briefing to launch the ANCYL's discussion documents ahead of its national elective congress in June.
During its discussion on gender, the league is expected to thrash out whether South Africa's criminalisation of the sex trade, and the way laws around it were enforced, was the "best model" for the country.
It has also taken issue with the way South Africa handled the situation in Libya, chastising its decision to vote with the United States on a no-fly zone. Tulelo questioned the government for failing to consult with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries on the decision it took.
The ANCYL did not believe that one country could determine the "solution" for another.
The last ANCYL national conference - where Malema was elected - was marred by violent altercations between rival factions and images of league members baring their behinds in front of media cameras.
The gathering in Mangaung came to an abrupt halt and had to be re-convened two months later to conclude its business.
The league was adamant that this time around, the conference would be "peaceful" but this did not mean there would not be difference of opinion on the leadership question.
League provincial conferences after Mangaung were also marred by poor organisation, with allegations of flawed processes and ghost delegates.
"The image of Mangaung... dealt a severe blow to the integrity of the ANCYL," Tulelo said.
She said the conference would be organised better and the league anticipated that it would be a "resounding success".
Discussion at the upcoming conference would be dominated by the ANCYL's quest for economic freedom through: "expropriation of strategic sectors of the economy without compensation", nationalisation, a "radical land restitution programme", "inclusive and decentralised economic growth and development", and investment in the development of the African economy.