OH, HOW SOON WE FORGET!
The African National Congress says it is “appalled” by the judgment against ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who was found guilty of “hate speech” in a just-ended trial.
A civil rights group, AfriForum, brought the charges against Malema for singing”Dubula l’bhunu” or “shoot the Boer,” at youth rallies. An apartheid-era freedom song, the lyrics include a call to shoot the white farmer. Video evidence produced in court showed Malema making gun gestures while singing.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza denounced the ruling for failing to consider the history of South Africa. The ANC supported Malema in the court fight.
But Judge Collin Lamont of the “Equality Court” called the lyrics, “discriminatory and harmful” to the Afrikaner community. The song was “hate speech” and should not be sung in public or at private meetings, he said.
According to its charter, the ANC is formally opposed to racial distinctions and seeks a non-racial society.
The judgment has raised concerns about freedom of speech, and has been described as one step away from “thought control”. Independent political and policy analyst, Somadoda Fikeni, said the matter could have been resolved outside the courts.
“If you begin to criminalize the words you may be inviting more disaffected youth to sing these songs and creating more criminals inadvertently. You do not regulate attitude, you educate.”
Malema’s popularity with youth and his activism pose a major challenge to the ANC old guard. Last week, he declared “economic war” against the white minority, saying: “The day has come, and on Oliver Tambo’s birthday, we are going to march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and take the battle to the monopoly capital.” The government, he said, was “in full cooperation with imperialists” and was undermining the “African agenda”.
Malema made his speech at the 67th anniversary of the ANC in Scwetla, Alexandra. More than 1,000 ANC loyalists were in attendance. He continues to face ANC party charges with three other colleagues for advocating regime change in Botswana and bringing the ANC into disrepute.