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ANC to appeal ban on struggle song

ANC national executive member Jessie Duarte. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

ANC national executive member Jessie Duarte. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Published Sep 13, 2011

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The ANC is to appeal against the Equality Court ruling banning the singing of Dubul’ iBhunu (Shoot the Boer).

ANC national executive member Jessie Duarte told E News channel on Monday night the party would appeal against the decision by Johannesburg High Court Judge Colin Lamont that singing Dubul’ iBhunu constituted hate speech. The judge interdicted ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and the ANC from singing the song in public or in private.

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The ruling would be impossible to implement, Duarte said, adding that preparations for the appeal process would begin on Tuesday.

She said AfriForum, which had brought the complaint, was using the Equality Court to take the country back to the dark ages of censorship and undoing nation-building.

“What would they feel like if we criticised the atrocious Voortrekker Monument, which we have incorporated in post-apartheid South Africa into a whole scheme of monuments which we call Freedom Park? The Voortrekker Monument is dero-gatory to black South Africans.

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“We are not digging into the songs of Afrikaner people. We are not saying that songs that call for some general to come and maak die Boere vry (liberate the Boers) is an undignified song.

“This song has its place in history, it’s got to be respected as such.”

Duarte said the party was concerned about the abuse of the Equality Court.

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“To me this is beginning to be beyond ridiculous. The question we must also put to South Africa is how serious is a complaint by an interest group as small as AfriForum that it begins to make South African law change and changes the history of this country.”

Earlier, the ANC said the ruling “flies against the need to accept our past and to preserve our heritage as an organisation and as a people”.

The SACP said the matter had been brought to the Equality Court by “rightwing fanatics who are hellbent (on rewriting) the history of our country and the Struggle”.

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“This ruling will fit into the ongoing process in society to rewrite the history and erase from our collective memory that the history of our people is a history of Struggle against colonial conquest.”

The SACP said the ruling was not only against Malema but against the collective rich history of the liberation movement.

Cosatu said the judgment was “discriminatory, harmful” and “a gross insult to our history as a country”.

It reiterated its alliance partners’ view that the song, like many other national liberation songs, was part of the Struggle heritage and history.

“The intention of the song was never literal. Rather, it merely echoes the anger and frustration of the black majority that was robbed of all rights and dignity under the inhumane apartheid system and all legal recourse through which to challenge the system.”

The song had also not been directed at individual white South Africans, but “rather a class of land barons who brutally exploited black workers and immensely benefited from their subjugation under apartheid rule”, Cosatu said.

“Although we embrace and fully support efforts to unite South Africans across race, colour and creed, our unity as South Africans and non-racialism as a democratic project would be hollow and meaningless if it was founded on an imposed amnesia about our apartheid past and its legacy.”

Opposition parties welcomed the ruling as a positive step towards non-racialism and upholding the constitution.

Freedom Front Plus said it hoped the ruling was a first step towards getting South Africa out of the swamp of hate speech and racism, which had become worse in the past year.

FF+ leader Pieter Mulder said the contrast between the Nelson Mandela approach after 1994 and the Malema approach in the past year, “shouted out for an adjustment”.

“Hopefully this judgment is the first step, of many still to be taken, to the recovery of the balance and the promotion of good relationships between all groups in South Africa.

“We also welcome the judge’s reference to minorities who are at the mercy of the majority and have no choice but to call on the courts for the correction of such an injustice and discrimination against them.”

The Afrikanerbond described the ruling as the first step on the road to non-racism and called on the Human Rights Commission to evaluate Malema’s pronouncements in the light of the Bill of Rights.

It said 510 complaints against Malema, referring, among other things, to the singing of the Struggle song and incidents of hate speech, had been lodged with the commission by organisations and individuals, including organised agriculture and political parties.

“Our information is that the National Prosecuting Authority’s provincial heads in the provinces where the statements were made by Malema have given the necessary permission for an investigative hearing by the Human Rights Commission at which Malema will be subpoenaed to testify.”

The Cope Youth Movement said the ruling should serve as a stern warning to politicians who believed they were above the provisions of the constitution and its Bill of Rights.

“The ruling is not only a victory for those who felt threatened by Malema’s ‘harmful and discriminatory’ utterances, but a victory for the rule of law, our democracy, our constitution. It reaffirms the essence on which our post-apartheid society is founded.”

The ID said the ruling was a “victory for unity”.

“There are elements of our history from both sides of the Struggle that make little or no contribution towards unity and reconciliation, such as the singing of the song.” - Political Bureau

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