South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday defended the singing of an apartheid-era song with the words “Kill the Boer” in a row that has raised fears of increasing racial polarisation.
The African National Congress dismissed a ruling by a regional high court last week that uttering or publishing the words would amount to hate speech and violate the constitution put in place after the end of white minority rule.
“These songs cannot be regarded as hate speech or unconstitutional,” ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told a news conference. “Any judgment that describes them as such is impractical and unimplementable.”
The recent singing of the song by firebrand ANC youth wing leader Julius Malema, who argues that black South Africans have not benefited enough from 16 years of democracy, drew anger from whites and other minority groups.
The lyrics of the song, sung in Zulu, translate as “kill the farmer, kill the Boer”, referring to the former ruling white minority.
“Most people realise that this is a struggle song but many whites cannot help but feel that they are being targeted,” said Marius Roodt a researcher at the South African Institute of Race Relations.
”The ANC needs to be sympathetic to the feelings of minorities especially if there is a perception created that they endorse inflammatory statements.
President Jacob Zuma has repeatedly stressed the importance of reconciliation in what became known as the “Rainbow Nation” after the relatively peaceful transition from apartheid.