The firebrand youth leader of South Africa’s ruling party made clear on Thursday he will not be silenced, demanding Zimbabwe-style land seizures from white farmers and vowing to keep singing a controversial song.
Under pressure after the murder of white supremacist Eugene Terre’blanche stoked fears of racial strife, the African National Congress told members on Wednesday to avoid inflammatory songs and comment.
Youth League leader Julius Malema said he would accede to the demand to drop the phrase “Kill the Boer” from the song which dates from the era of the struggle against apartheid, but keep singing the rest of it. Boer is the Afrikaans word for a farmer.
“We will take out the ‘Kill the Boer’ in the song,” Malema told News Agency. “We do so because the ANC says we should restrain ourselves.”
Malema, 29, is accused by critics of encouraging racial division 16 years after the end of white minority rule and opposition parties have called on President Jacob Zuma to rein him in.
But Malema has a passionate following within the youth wing and among many other black South Africans who complain they have not benefitted as much as they should from majority rule.
Malema dimissed accusations that his singing of “Kill the Boer” was a factor in Saturday’s murder of Terre’blanche by two black workers — which police suspect was over a pay dispute.
“We have no blood on our hands,” said Malema, who threw a British journalist out of the news conference, calling him a bastard with a “white tendency”.
The ANC rejects the suggestion of a link to the song and appealed on Thursday against a court’s decision to ban it on the grounds that it is hate speech and unconstitutional.
Malema was speaking after his return from a visit to Zimbabwe, where he met President Robert Mugabe and hailed the seizure of white-owned farms to give to landless blacks as a success that South Africa should emulate.
“We are in a serious economic struggle that seeks to redistribute the wealth to the people. This is what we need the ANC to champion,” said Malema, who has no direct influence over party policy and also champions mine nationalisation.
“Land reform in Zimbabwe has been very successful.”
Malema said land seizures in South Africa should be “aggressive” and “militant” but he was not calling for violence.
Mugabe’s critics say his land confiscations helped ruin the country’s rich agriculture and drive more than three million Zimbabweans overseas — most to seek work in South Africa.
Parliament in South Africa is set to review a draft policy later this month for a new land tenure system, although the government in Africa’s biggest economy and largest maize producer stresses this will not mean nationalising land
SOURCED FROM REUTERS