ANC national executive committee member Derek Hanekom, who is also the deputy minister of science and technology, was testifying in the hate speech trial of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
He told the court it would be helpful if the group of people who felt hurt by the song understood it.
“The spirit [in which it is sung] does not even constitute hate speech,” he told the court.
Hanekom said there was no intention to do harm or incite violence when the song was sung.
“It’s in a friendly atmosphere,” he said, adding that he would support a national dialogue in this regard. ” . . . We need to talk to each other a bit more,” he said.
In his experience in the ANC, which he joined in 1980, it was never the party’s intention to “exclude anybody”, Hanekom testified.
The ANC’s main objective was to obtain a non-racial, non-sexist and united society, he said.
Hanekom said that during the struggle, liberation songs were “just that”.
“White, black, Jewish, Muslim . . . people sang struggle songs . . . It was very important as a mobilisation tool.”
Today, he said, the singing of liberation songs was a celebration of “who we are”, and they represented “every part of our history”, “and the fact we’ve brought to an end an unjust system”.
Malema is on trial in the Equality Court on a charge of hate speech brought by the civil rights group AfriForum over his singing of a struggle song containing the lyrics “shoot the boer” or “awudubhule ibhunu”.
On Thursday, Malema told hundreds of supporters outside the High Court, that the hate speech case was just a test for the “revolution”.
“There is no individual on trial . . . they are testing our revolution . . . they are testing methods we used to defeat them,” he said.
“These judges are our judges. Whether you like it or not, they work for the government . . . the government which is us, the ANC,” Malema said.
He asked the group to maintain their “militancy” and to not apologise for being radical.
Also on Thursday, AfriForum threatened to bring an additional hate speech charge against Malema and another against ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu for encouraging people outside the court to sing the lyrics with them.
The case continues.