Ed Cropley, Reuters, October 31, 2012
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) pledged on Wednesday to stop its supporters singing the “Shoot the Boer” anti-apartheid anthem to avoid upsetting white farmers and stirring racial tension.
The agreement between the ANC and white-minority interest group Afriforum ends a two-year legal battle over the song that had ignited a debate about freedom of speech, censorship of history and efforts to mend the racist rifts in South African society.
The liberation-era song calls on the oppressed black majority to gun down the boers, or white Afrikaner farmers who were among apartheid’s staunchest supporters.
A Johannesburg High Court ruled last year that it was “hate speech” after then-ANC youth leader Julius Malema — who has since been expelled from the party for ill-discipline — sang it at several public meetings.
An ANC appeal against that ruling was due to start in the Supreme Court on Thursday. The two sides instead agreed to sit down and reach a deal rather than ask the courts to decide on a topic as thorny as “banning” a song known to nearly every adult black South African.
“The ANC commits itself not to sing this song,” Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a news conference, flanked by Afriforum lawyers and leaders of the Transvaal Agricultural Union, a white farmers’ group.