ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa made the comments while urging residents to vote in Seshogo, according to the Star newspaper on Monday. "If all South Africans don't vote, we will regress. The boers will come back to control us," he was quoted as saying.
Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota said the comments showed shameful disregard to the Constitution.
"Ramaphosa's statement that the 'boers' will return to rule [SA] if people don't vote for [ANC] is a shameful disregard to our constitutional democracy and it underestimates the intelligence of South Africans," he said on Monday.
Lekota accused ANC leaders of advancing laws similar to those in the apartheid era, with legislation to protect state secrets and national key points.
"It is irresponsible of Ramaphosa to agitate racial hatred amongst the people of our country in pursuit of votes. We never expected such disregard for the Constitution … by the very man who contributed in writing [to] that Constitution," Lekota added.
He said, if Ramaphosa's statements were the final card which the party could play – to pit black and white against one another – they had exposed themselves as bankrupt contenders with nothing else to offer than fear.
Using the race card
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said the statements showed how much he was stuck in the dark ages.
"The ANC is panicking, which is why even people like Cyril Ramaphosa are using the race card," DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said.
"As Jacob Zuma's ANC sees its power slipping, it appeals more and more to tired racial insinuations and the supernatural to convince supporters to stick with them.
"First it was the fires of hell. Now it is the ghosts of the apartheid regime that are being invoked to scare voters into staying with a party that deserted them a long time ago."
The Freedom Front Plus called Ramaphosa's boer comments "racist".
"Apart from the fact that such a statement is not based on any real facts, it is also racist and polarising," the party's leader Pieter Mulder said.
"It is clear from this how deep in trouble the ANC is with their impatient voters. Because Mr Ramaphosa is second in charge of the ANC, these remarks cannot be lightly dismissed."
Meanwhile, the ANC said it will lay a complaint against the City Press with the press ombudsman, which it claimed had "sensationalised" an article about lack of support for Ramaphosa in Seshego.
Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said: "Following yesterday's [Monday's] … report, which concocted and sensationalised the voter registration campaign undertaken by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in Limpopo at the weekend, the African National Congress will be formally lodging a formal complaint with the press ombudsman."
The newspaper reported on Sunday that he was shunned by residents when he went on a door-to-door walkabout during voter registration proceedings at the weekend.
The newspaper reported that one man refused to shake his hand, and that a homeowner chased Ramaphosa away from his property. "Go away, go away. You are not welcome here. This is my home. People are dying because of the ANC," the homeowner was quoted as saying.
Mthembu said he was confident the ombudsman would be able to resolve the matter. – Sapa