Malema silent as ANC stops race songs

08 April 2010 - 01:08 By DOMINIC MAHLANGU

Julius Malema's ANC Youth League says it will abide by the ruling party's temporary ban on the singing of "anti-boer" songs.

Although Malema - the league's president - was not available to respond to the ANC decision yesterday, his organisation said it will no longer sing songs that include the words dubul'ibhunu (shoot the boer).

ANCYL spokesman Paseka Letsatsi said: "We are all members of the ANC and its decisions should be respected.

"We will not deviate from the decision taken by our leaders and we will not sing the song until a final decision has been made."

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe announced that the ruling party's top officials - including party president Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe - have decided to temporarily ban the singing of controversial songs "in view of the environment currently prevailing in our country".

The decision came in the wake of attempts by various political parties to link the murder on Saturday of Eugene Terre Blanche, leader of the extreme right-wing AWB, to Malema's singing of the "shoot the boer" song.

Mantashe said: "The [ANC] structures were . asked by the officials to be circumspect in singing liberation songs that have words that can be seen and be interpreted to be contributing to a racial polarisation of society.

"Our appeal to our members is informed by the fact that we have a responsibility of ensuring that they are not used as a scapegoat for other agendas .

"It is a considered view of our officials that such restraint as called upon will help our society see through the disguised attempts by the right-wing groups that seek to reverse the transformation progress made since 1994," Mantashe said.

Zuma and other officials, The Times was informed, were also concerned that Malema and other senior party leaders who continued to sing such songs were in contempt of a recent Johannesburg High Court ruling by Judge Leon Halgryn.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana and Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramokgopa are reported to have sung the "shoot the boer" song at an ANC gathering on Tuesday night.

The Times understands that Mantashe telephoned Malema and the leaders of the ANC Women's League and uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans' Association to convey the decision soon after the officials' meeting at Zuma's presidential residence, Mahlabandlopfu, on Tuesday evening, was concluded.

An ANC insider, who did not want to be named, said party leaders had wanted to communicate with Malema "face-to-face" but could not do so because he was in Limpopo preparing for an exam.

Mantashe said the decision was not final. The matter will be debated at next month's meeting of the ANC's national executive committee.

He said: "In the current environment we must avoid certain things. The NEC will debate this matter and a political decision will have to be taken about our liberation songs.

"The structures of the ANC must decide on this and not the courts," he said, referring to the recent Johannesburg High Court ruling against the singing of the song.

Mantashe said the party would go ahead with its appeal against the Johannesburg High Court's decision as the ANC believes it to be flawed.

Politcal analyst Steven Friedman welcomed the ANC's decision, but was doubtful that the party could enforce it.

He said: "It would be interesting to see whether the ANC will be able to stop party members from singing the songs. In the past, the youth league, in particular, has defied ANC instructions and it is important now to see whether Zuma will enforce this decision on Malema."

Asked what action would be taken against members who insisted on singing the "shoot the boer" lyrics, Mantashe said: "It is not about a master and servant relationship. We must explain the importance of this call, it is not about punishing people. We don't want to instill fears in the leagues."

If the NEC next month decides to permanently ban the lyrics, it would not be the first time the ANC has taken such a step.

In the 1990s, following protests against the lyrics of Hamba Kahle Mkhonto - a struggle song always sung at the funerals of people who participated in the armed struggle - the ANC decided to change some of the lyrics.

The word kill in "we are prepared to kill all these boers", was changed to "transform".

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