Cape Town - South African leaders need to reach out to those in the Afrikaans-speaking and African communities on their concerns about singing the full national anthem, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
Ramaphosa was responding to questions from journalists in Cape Town on whether he thought the refusal by some prominent South Africans to sing the full national anthem meant the country's social cohesion project was failing.
“I don't believe that social cohesion in our country is falling apart,” he said.
“We come from a fractured past... and we've got wounds that need to continue being healed and some of the wounds revolve around the national anthem.”
Ramaphosa described as unfortunate the controversies over “Die Stem”, when Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr sang the old national anthem in Australia, and the EFF called for “Die Stem” part to be removed from the official anthem.
“We need to be reaching out to some among us, our compatriots. We need to reach out to them and get to understand the frustrations, the sense of despondency that they feel when they respond in the way that they do,” he said.
“We are about building a nation and we must extend a hand of friendship, a hand of continued reconciliation to those who feel that the national anthem does not represent them any longer, and it can happen on both sides.”
Ramaphosa said former president Nelson Mandela had once reprimanded ANC members at a national conference for singing only the Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika part of the anthem.
“He (Mandela) said we are about building a nation and we must sing the entire national anthem,” said Ramaphosa.
“He did that because he sensed that we needed to be cajoled, we needed to be egged on to get on with the task of social cohesion because sometimes we can fall back into our old practices, old prejudices.”
Ramaphosa said he would get involved in the matter.
“I want to make it my task as well to reach out to many of those Afrikaans-speaking people and indeed even many Africans who may be feeling we are losing the social cohesion project.”