No doubt, Penny Sparrow’s new year hate speech mothered countless others within a few weeks. And now, with piles more seen on social media, tertiary institutions and political parties, the president has called for a change in attitude.
To this effect, Zuma has announced that South Africa would be raising its anti-racism banner during this year’s Human Rights Day. And will be dedicating the day specially to remembering that racism is bad and unacceptable in the country.
He further revealed that the month of March will be an anti-racism month as the country will be widening its anti-racism campaign in all sectors that make up the state.
It is expected that the message of anti-racism will be on everyone’s lips throughout the month. The state will organize a rally in Durban on March 21 in remembrance of the ‘National day against racism’, Zuma added.
“Let all South Africans speak in one voice on March 21 and every other day, and say we are united against racism and that together we will continue to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.”
“We should not think it is for other people, nor should we think it is for political parties or politicians. It is for all of us, [to speak out against it].”
“Racism subjugated our communities and so it is important that we speak against racism and not allow it to come back,” President Zuma said.
On Wednesday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who spoke at a parliamentary function urged South Africans to unite against racism.
“Racism is embedded in attitudes, beliefs and behaviour to one another. Racism is at the heart of the economic disparities in this country.”
“If we are to build a truly non-racial society, then all South Africans – black and white – need to unite in tackling racial prejudice, discrimination and intolerance,” he said.
Ramaphosa also revealed that “a number of political parties, some of whom are sitting here in Parliament, still have people who are racists within their ranks, and therefore we need to act collectively to rid our institutions of racism.”
In South Africa, hate speech has a strong link to racism and this underscores why the DA promised suspending Penny Sparrow after she dubbed black people ‘monkeys’.
And according to DA spokesperson Mabine Seabe, hate speech is “any speech, gesture or conduct, in writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.”
More so, according to a researcher at the Freedom of Expression Institute Nomagugu Nyathi, South African constitution stipulates that hate speech does not constitute freedom of expression.
It therefore “prohibits speech that propagates for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.”