The arts and culture budget debate in parliament on Tuesday became a debate on another topic altogether – the validity of speaking in Afrikaans in the National Assembly.
Freedom Front Plus (FF+) MP Heloise Jordaan’s attempts to speak in her mother tongue were interrupted by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members.
Popular musician Ringo Madlingozi – one of the EFF’s representatives in parliament following the May 8 elections – raised a point of order in objection to Jordaan’s use of Afrikaans.
“We see this white supremacy in the fact that English and Afrikaans remain the only two languages that have been mainstreamed and are used in professional environments. We see this in the buildings and streets named after the colonial murderers and criminals,” Madlingozi said.
“And we maintain our principle that Die Stem must fall. Asking blacks to sing the anthem of the oppressor is the encouragement of self-hate and the glorification of a criminal regime. It glorifies a regime and system that is responsible for black genocide,” he continued.
It is unclear whether or not EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi would agree with Madlingozi seemingly making a link between the EFF’s concerns around the use of Afrikaans and their opposition to the part of the South African national anthem that was used under apartheid.
Ndlozi has said on Twitter that the party’s desire to have the Die Stem section of the anthem scrapped was not based on language.
The spokesperson said the EFF wanted “Die Stem gone” and would want this even if the song were “sang in Sesotho”.
He made a distinction between the party’s desire to see Die Stem removed from the South African National Anthem – presumably because of its association with apartheid – and “the conversation about Afrikaans”.
This was a reaction to a question, asked by a parody account taking its name from prominent advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. The person behind the account asked why the EFF was advocating for just the Afrikaans part of the anthem to be removed and not also the English part, as English was a “colonist language that also perpetuated violence in our history”.