Zuma: Umshini Wami part of SA history

ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma questioned the “Americanisation” of culture in South Africa, criticising television images of sex and violence during a speech in Johannesburg on Sunday.

“Why are we Americanising ourselves, why?” he asked the official launch of the Creative Workers Union of SA (CWUSA).

“There’s more violence on the TV ... there’s more open sex on TV. What education are you giving to us? Is that part of our culture?”

He said writers, in particular script writers for TV and radio, were an important source of education in a society.

“You are teaching society to be violent. There’s more blood our children are subjected to. You are wondering why there is such violent crime? Because these are the graduates of such education.”

In what could be interpreted as a reference to ANC national chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota’s remarks about the freedom song Umshini Wami, Zuma said songs like this were part of South Africa’s history.

“[If you erase the songs], you erase the record of history,” he said. Delegates greeted this statement with thunderous applause and banged on the metal tables at which they were seated.

“I don’t think anyone must suggest that we must look at some parts of our struggle as evil,” he added.

Lekota’s remarks, broadcast on the South African Broadcasting Corporation, condemned those singing such songs as being “izibhanxa” [brainless or fools]. On television, Lekota was clearly incensed and pointing to his head. Lekota said on Wednesday that his remarks were not aimed at Zuma in particular and that he was speaking broadly about policy.

Speaking to journalists after his speech, Zuma said: “You’ve heard me defend [Bok van Blerk’s controversial song] De la Rey. That was one of the greatest generals South Africa has ever produced. Afrikaners, if they did not sing about De la Rey, who else would they sing about?”

He said the controversy surrounding the firing of deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and the theft and drinking reports relating to her boss Manto Tshabalala-Msimang were matters affecting the government and not the ANC.

They were also not affecting the ANC in its run-up to the national conference in December.

“What happens in government ... is not the same as what happens in the ANC. I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary in the ANC. In any conference in an organisation of the ANC’s size, when it goes to conference, South Africa moves.”

In his speech he called on artists to pay greater attention to interpreting, writing and singing about the struggle against apartheid and its heroes.

Referring to a speech delivered few days ago at the University of the Free State, Zuma said he had spoken about “racism, ethnicity and regionalism”.

“We need to conscientise ourselves that it is a sickness that gets utilised by people at the slightest problem,” he told CWUSA members.

Zuma appealed to artists to “conscientise” people to the need for a non-racial society.

At the conclusion of his address he launched with gusto into his trademark rendition of Umshini Wami. Delegates responded by joining in the song, cheering and dancing.

His speech was interspersed with self-deprecating remarks like: “It is always not easy to talk to people who are by nature thinkers, creators ... what can you say as an ordinary person like myself?... I’m not an artist, though I can make some noise which you could call singing, and I can do Zulu dance.”

For its part, Congress of South African Trade Unions affiliate CWUSA said it would lobby for the expansion of local content in the domestic media.

“We specifically resolve that local content in domestic media [television and radio] should be increased from what it presently is to 70%, particularly in all SABC-controlled media,” said union president Mabutho Sithole.

He expressed concern that despite anti-piracy campaigns, syndicates producing pirated goods had still not been “busted” and he appealed to “patriotic citizens” to stop buying these.

Mabutho added that music rights relating to the 2010 Soccer World Cup should be retained with South Africans and not by Sony BMG.

Failing this CWUSA would campaign for South African recording artists to refuse to take part in recordings relating to the World Cup. - Sapa

Beefing up the branches

Meanwhile, Zuma on Sunday urged former members of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) to be active at ANC branch levels.

Zuma told members of the ANC’s former armed wing to use the education they got from the ANC to beef up the branches. He was addressing the second North West provincial general council meeting of the MK Military Veterans’ Association in Lethabong.

“Your presence must be felt in each and every branch of the ANC; take up yourself and participate meaningfully,” he said.

Zuma told former MK soldiers that they should always remember that freedom did not come easily, and that they should use the skills they learned while in military camps to develop the country.

“Use the skills you learned to destroy the former apartheid government to develop this democracy.”

Alfred Motsi, provincial chairperson of the MK Military Veterans’ Association, said the conference had nominated Zuma to stand as president of the ANC and of the country in 2009.

The veterans intended nominating current ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe as party deputy president and Winnie Mandela as the ANC’s national chairperson.

Zuma said the ANC’s December conference was not only about the election of a new party president but would also look at a “number of issues”.

He did not elaborate. - Sapa

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