Malema defends ANCYL’s proposals
The scars of South Africa’s post-apartheid era were this week picked bare in the Equality Court as Afrikaner interest groups Afriforum and the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) sought to prove that by singing the lyrics of Dubul ibhunu, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was inciting hatred towards white farmers.
In a true “only in South Africa” moment Malema occupied the stand for two days – supported by his all-black legal counsel, questioned by the all-white legal teams of Afriforum and TAU – testifying about the meaning of a song about defeating white oppressors which had been conceived under apartheid, sung in isiZulu and, 15 years into the democratic dispensation, resurrected by Malema.
Words like “genocide”, “transformation” and “land reform” were bandied about as the waters became more and more murky around what the case was truly about.
In addition to the singing of the song, Malema found himself defending the ANC Youth League’s policy proposals for land reform and the nationalisation of mines.
TAU advocate Roelof Du Plessis SC gave the impression of someone peddling fear, warning Malema not to make “political statements”, then likening Malema, who joined the ANC’s Young Pioneer movement at age 13, to a “child soldier”.
This line of questioning resulted in soft whistles from the gallery and Judge Colin Lamont called the statement “very inflammatory”.
“What we are talking about is the perception that people have outside this courtroom of you, of what you say and how that should be interpreted, not how you say it must be interpreted and what you mean.
“It’s important for those people outside to know who you are,” Du Plessis explained.
While it remains to be seen whether Afriforum and TAU have succeeded in proving the danger of a prominent leader singing struggle songs with potentially inflammatory wording, the case has laid bare division in South African society.
A Genocide Watch Report which lists South Africa as one of the “countries at risk of genocide”, alongside the Ivory Coast, Isreal and Palestine and Uzbekistan, was submitted as evidence.
Du Plessis argued that the report showed that those at risk of being victims of genocide were “boers and refugees”.
The ANC Youth League’s land-reform policies took up much of Du Plessis’s cross-examination.
Malema testified that the Youth League had evidence that black South Africans owned only 7% of agricultural land, but Du Plessis said according to different research the figure was in fact 20.2% compared to the 44% owned by whites and 25% owned by government.
Du Plessis, demanding clarity on the land reform policy, said, “What is the plan?”
In a calm tone Malema said there was no need for the Afrikaans community to be afraid, saying, “If you own 83 000 hectares of land alone as a family and we say can you please share this land with these 50 extra families, why would you refuse… ?”
Du Plessis: “Because you worked hard to earn that land…”
Malema: “Let’s not go back to working hard. Our people were forcefully removed from this land.”
It was a tense moment in which it became apparent that the lyrics of Dubul ibhunu were just one facet of the fear that gripped some 45 000 Afrikaners who saw fit to help fund the Afriforum case.
It’s a fear that many outside the court do not understand. Some say the idea that a song will lead to Afrikaners being forcefully driven from their land is unjustified.
A date has yet to be set for final argument. Both sides have said they would be open to dialogue as a parallel process to the court case.