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Malema, Milosevic, Hitler and the ticking time bomb

In March of 1991 after months of nationalistic propaganda and other divisive rhetoric from Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman, a small group of Serbs and Croats clashed in the Plitvice Lakes National Park on the border between these two countries. Serbs had moved into the park and expelled the park management. Zagreb viewed this as a national insult, an invasion of its newly declared territory and sent in police militia to retake the park. This resulted in a gun battle, in which one Serb and one Croat were killed (quite ironically on Easter Sunday), and sparked the Croatian war of independence in the early 90s in which thousands of people were killed.

The Serb civilian militia that took the park were confident of support from Belgrade. Milosevic, the Serb leader had spent the better part of his early career exposing old wounds, carefully manipulating Serbian history and invoking the oppression folklore of Serbs through the ages. When those men took the park, they did so with the full expectation that their government was ideologically aligned with their actions and would support them, which ultimately they did.

When Julius Malema sings “shoot the boer” he sends that same message of support. When he advocates nationalisation of mines and other private business he sends that message. When he talks of land redistribution and flies off to Zimbabwe to learn how they did it, he sends that message. He tacitly assures his followers of government solidarity in any aggression towards white farmers and white business. He polarises our society and he does it for personal gain.

Hitler, before coming to power in Germany in 1933 (incidentally in the middle of a huge global recession), made the following comments in support of certain inflammatory phrases used by his Nazi party:

During his testimony, Hitler insisted that his party was determined to come to power legally, that the phrase “National Revolution” was only to be interpreted “politically”, and that his party was a friend, not an enemy of the Reichswehr. Sound familiar?

Hitler used the conditions in Germany after the Great Depression to fuel his support and rise to power. His thinly veiled policies of nationalistic indoctrination, racial hatred and revolution were written off much as those of Malema are today but came to the fore once his real power was consolidated by the people that bought into his rhetoric. Hitler knew the power of symbolism and the emotional sway it held over people. He wrapped the downtrodden German nation around his evil little finger by playing on past injustice and symbols of all descriptions.

My intention here is not to compare Malema directly with Hitler. I think that is somehow unfair to both of them. I do, however, feel it is necessary to point out the dangers of what Malema is doing and put it into historical context. To understand his actions we need to ask what his motives are. Why does Malema sing that song? Why does he inflame and incite and stoke the fires of racial division when any thinking person knows and can see that South Africa needs exactly the opposite?

In a country that desperately needs reconciliation; he has chosen the opposite path. He has chosen to open old wounds before they have had a chance to heal. He has decided to rise to power as Milosevic and Hitler did before him: on a wave on nationalistic fervour and emotion. He does not care about the average South African. He does not care about this country or the irreparable damage he may do in his quest for personal status and power. If he did, he would understand that above all we need to settle the past and move forward.

To clarify: I do not support the banning of the song by the high court.

It is not the song that is to blame here. It has its place in our history and should it have been sung during a stage production, a TV documentary or feature in a CD compilation of struggle songs for historic record, there would have been absolutely no problem. Powerful symbols, however, can be powerful weapons. A gun may sit idly in a war museum or be loaded and pointed at your head. As with the gun, “kill the boer” wielded at the right moment to an emotionally charged crowd can kill. It only has to legitimise lethal action in the eyes of a tiny minority, perhaps one or two people, and those acts can alter the course of a nation.

When you raise the temperature and people who follow you believe that they have the support of the leadership and act, you reach flash point. The war in Croatia started with the killing of one Croat and one Serb in a minor skirmish. It escalated from there because both nations were drunk on nationalistic propaganda and were cursed with ambitious and irresponsible leadership. We are in much the same position here in South Africa today.

“Shoot the boer” is not just a song. It is a powerful symbol of an uprising. Singing “kill the boer” is not nostalgic for some people in this country just as the singing of Die Stem and the waving of the old flag is not nostalgic for others. They are both symbols of a dark, racially divided time and invoking them brings all of that old resentment to the surface. Hearing Die Stem as you potter down the rows at the Apartheid Museum is hardly a threat to anybody. Hearing it from a 60 000-strong crowd of emotionally charged whites waving the old flag at Ellis Park is something quite different. It is not the song, the symbol itself; it is the manner in which it is wielded and the occasion at which it is used. It is cheap politics to revive, warp and threaten with these symbols and those who do so are playing with fire and our collective futures in this country.

Eugene Terre’Blanche, prior to his death, was a forgotten joke of South African politics. He was a broken man whose dubious life’s work was in ruin, his vision in tatters and most of us were only too happy to keep it that way. His death, in the middle of the debate about singing songs about killing farmers, has made him a victim and a martyr. Good people who were rightly appalled at his politics are now far more appalled at his death. A man that should have died quietly on his farm, largely forgotten, has become the very symbol of the injustice that South African farmers endure on a daily basis. It’s exactly the kind of PR he would have loved but could never generate in life.

The powerful symbolism expressed by the manner of his death is embedded in the deep irony that he formed his organisation and fought to avoid precisely that outcome. Die “swart gevaar murdering us in our beds” was literally the symbol of fear that he used to gather his support. By doing exactly that his killers have turned him from crackpot to prophet, they proved him right and gave legitimacy to a man that could not have earned it by himself.

The ANC has taken great pains to assure everybody that it was simply a wage dispute gone wrong. That has no relevance. What has relevance here is that a white farmer and leader has been hacked and beaten to death by more than one person in a premeditated attack. He is now one of the thousands of farmers murdered in our country since 1994. Wage disputes are settled by negotiations, strikes and go-slows. Hatred, racial or otherwise, is vented with pangas and blunt objects. This was no ordinary wage dispute. It smacks of a hate crime in every respect.

It takes intense hatred to beat and hack a man to death. Even Eugene Terre’Blanche himself, although he tried hard and went to jail for his efforts, could not quite generate that level of premeditated racial hatred. His killers outdid him at his own game. They proved yet again that racism and hatred have no colour. Those who believe that somehow black people are immune might do well to revise their views.

I have to believe that South Africans will have the maturity to remain calm as they did following the Chris Hani assassination. The glaring difference today, however, is that we do not have leaders with the calming and reconciliatory nature and motives of Mandela. We have Zuma and Malema, self-serving power-mongering children both, and one of the root causes that there is no clear message going out there that taking revenge on farmers and white people is wrong. They invoke the struggle, singing songs of war and killing to their supporters and that is precisely what has manifested on the ground.

Zuma has finally had the good grace to come forward and renounce the emotive singing of struggle songs and asked for leaders to watch what they say. The announcement probably has everything to do with allaying international fears two months before the World Cup. Zuma screwed up by not reining in Malema earlier and this is damage control. That’s all. He was quite comfortable singing his own machine gun songs to get a rise out of the crowds.

Malema is still trying to learn all he can from Mugabe. With any luck, Zanu-PF will snap him up and he will stay where the damage has already been done and spare us from the same.

The time is fast approaching where the deep well of white guilt will dry up and the genuine desire of good white people to be part of a solution will dissolve. The hand of reconciliation is outstretched but the arm is getting tired. The chasm between races here is deepening and the outcome is becoming increasingly uncertain.

The responsibility for this dire situation lies squarely with the ANC now. They run the country, they forge the policy and they speak directly to the majority who are endlessly loyal to them. They have maintained a policy of racial polarisation when fair and legitimate alternative options are available. They could have abolished the concept of race here in South Africa but instead they leverage it and profit from it. They have incited when calming reconciliation was required. They have grossly squandered the resources of this country that should be uplifting the poor and are gorging themselves in a frenzy of self-enrichment. They are a vastly corrupt and inefficient government.

This is not the legacy of apartheid. This is ANC policy in 2010 and there is no excuse good enough to condone it any longer. Should South Africa tumble off the precipice, history will now judge the ANC as responsible. There is a point when you need to take responsibility for your own actions and the situation you find yourself it. For the ANC and its supporters, that time is now here.


  • The human brain is made of atoms. Atoms consist primarily of empty space. It is fair to say, therefore, that my head is basically empty. That will please those of you who disagree with what I say until it dawns on you that your head is empty too. So, based on the undeniable fact that our heads are fundamentally comprised of emptiness, is anything we think or say of any real value? Probably not. Remember that next time you are fuming at some point of view contrary to your own. There is no debate that is not worth having. No subject should ever be off limits.


  1. Psyche Psyche 7 April 2010

    This article is nothing but rubish as expected from jounalists like yourself. Firstly, it should be noted that it was one journalist that interpreted the song and published it when the President of the ANCYL was just singing yet another revolutionary song of the struggle of ANC, which Julius was not wrong of doing so.

    It’s suprising to realise that the same people that are deviding our country (journalists/media) are the same people we tend to only listen to and this is a great danger to our country and will further devide us till it gets to the point where we have a civil war.

    Comparing Julius to Hitler and milosevic is like you said dissrespect to both of them especially the President. Grant I think you should relook your facts and come up with a proper discusion that will not be devicive to the nation like all you journalists are currently doing. The ANC government has done wonders to bring the nation where it is and we should not jeoperdise that.

  2. Peter Win Peter Win 7 April 2010

    Kitty kat,
    You seem to be so proud of the struggle.

    Are you also proud of slogans like “freedom before education” and “pass one, pass all” that destroyed a generation of (black) youth ?

    How about “with our matches we will …” and necklacing ? Good, moral conduct that we should continue to praise in song?

    Please stop being ridiculous. To sing praising murder is abhorrent and a crime against humanity.

  3. Charlotte Charlotte 7 April 2010

    What an absoluteley marvellous article!
    Saying it like it is; saying what is needed to be said – and saying it so well!

  4. MLH MLH 7 April 2010

    Grant: sheer genius; congratulations!

    The only link you didn’t make obvious, that I feel is pertinent: in times of deep recession, many are unemployed and are only too happy to join an army of some sort, as happened in Hitler’s Germany, happened in Mugabe’s Zim and could well happen here. There is also no cheaper way of cutting unemployment; those who are killed don’t draw salaries for long…unemployed black South Africans could easily be persuaded at this time!

  5. marxism sux marxism sux 7 April 2010

    @ Dave Harris

    The arms deal funds could have bought many farms in this country. But your friends found bribes easier than farming the land and waiting for profits. Thus, land shortage a nondebate in south africa.

    @ Kitty Kat

    Malema is mugabe is stalin is trotsky is marx is hitler is idi is castro is geuvara is pathetic

  6. Grant Walliser Grant Walliser Post author | 7 April 2010

    To all of those above who have focused on the Serbian angle only – My inclusion of Milosevic and Hitler in the above was not to line up a row of tyrants. Each man was both a product of his situation and his character. In both cases, I feel that there was a gross mismatch in what the nation needed and the man they received to lead them.

    Hitler arrived when Germany needed a leader to restore pride. They could have landed a Mandela but they landed a Hitler and history tells us the rest.

    Serbia too needed a calm head in the 1990’s. Yugoslavia was fracturing and breaking up and instead of managing the process peacefully, Milosevic used it as a springboard for his career. He chose to use nationalism as a rallying point to bring his people together. In so doing he and other Yugoslav leaders that took the same approach forged ethnic and religious lines in the process and the killing began. They too needed reconciliatory leaders with a bigger vision.

    Malema is not Hitler nor is he Milosevic BUT he is using the very same methods that those men used to come to power. He is dividing the country along racial lines and raising the temperature. Those on his side love him for it and those on the other side hate him. Love him or hate him, he is undoing the hard work of the last 16 years and we are sliding backwards into unstable uncertainty.

  7. maditsi maditsi 8 April 2010

    @Kitty Kat. That song is old and boring. Can we (all south africans) please sing: Kill the tenderpreneurs, Kill the corruption. Imagine songs like that on radio and tv, and in service delivery protests. We can create a memorable history far more valuable than what your song is doing right now.

  8. Orca Orca 8 April 2010

    A well-meaning article, Mr Walliser. Unfortunately it flies in the face of history and logic. The sub-Saharan African model adheres to the following steps and South Africa is showing itself to be no exception.
    Step 1: alienate and drive the white population from the territory (this is where SA is at and has been beavering away at this for some years now);
    Step 2: destroy all infrastructure and, in fact, any reminders of the past even if these are essential to the welfare of the nation (we have already made some considerable headway in this area; Zim and the DRC are the continents’s exponents at this stage, and some of SA’s leaders are showing strong signs of emulating);
    Step 3: commence a civil war followed by more civil wars interrupted by occasional and short truces. These conflicts are usually based along tribal lines;
    Step 4: when the nation has completely imploded, blame it on the former colonialists but at the same time accept all forms of aid which are then monopolised by the regime in power at the time and used to oppress the remainder of the country. The largest item on the national budget of these states is armament.
    Et voila, it’s quite simple really.
    And don’t call me a doomsayer. I have personally lived through that and I can tell you that that is the way your dear South Africa will go.

  9. Suburban Terrorist Suburban Terrorist 8 April 2010

    Great article. I, however, have seen very little evidence over the past 15 years that supports your contentions that there is “… genuine desire of … white people to be part of a solution” or that there really is any meaningful “hand of reconciliation … outstretched”

  10. brent brent 8 April 2010

    Suberb article and collection of thoughts and ideas, it will go over the head of most of this sites bloggers.

    To come down to simple things, following is an easy (very inadequate) analogy which i hope most people will get:

    if one is walking through thick bush and is bitten by a deadly poisonous snake you have 3 options:
    – chase after it crashing through the bush with righous anger trying to kill it.
    – stand there wailing loudly about the unfairness of it all
    – get as fast as possible to medical assistance.

    Obviously the 3rd option is the wisest.

    So having been badly bitten by apartheid SA needs very much to get medical help to SAVE the body and then BUILD it up. We (SA) are ± half way there but our now our helpers are insisting that we rush back to the bush and root our all the snakes and get rid of them.

    There are two problems here, one our body (SA) has not recovered enough to go Bundu bashing and two this latter excercise will destroy the bush (SA environment) plus all the snakes who after all do have uses ie keeping the rat population in check and many more that Mother Nature will be better than me at expressing.

    So do we focus on getting the victum (SA) better or destroying the environment forever that caused the problem?


  11. Freedom Toaster Freedom Toaster 8 April 2010

    “The focus here is not on the song but when and how and by whom it is being used and to what end.” Grant

    Did you stop to think, that he uses this song to manipulate the public, in that they get into this frenzy of focusing on race issues. Rather than his continued lavish lifestyle sponsored by government tenders. PEOPLE WAKE UP. He intentionally provokes the races so that their focus is not on what is really important. He is playing a sick game, which is so unfortunate, because this could lead to the demise of our country. Thus potentially making us a statistic of a failed state.

  12. Niko Niko 8 April 2010

    @ Orca, 100 % right, the good old Africa Syndrome !
    Will this continent ever learn ????

  13. Kool Kid Kool Kid 8 April 2010

    White pple(Farmers) have to make an effort to reconcialion and stop their naked aggression towards farm workers or it will mean the struggle continues and Malema will not stop singing the song.They have to be part of the solution by forming Orania and Kleinfontein is not part of the solution.

  14. Paul Whelan Paul Whelan 8 April 2010


    Yours of April 7.

    There was a long standing desire on the German right for a Hitler, not throughout the whole of Germany, where the communists saw him and the Nazis for what they were, an abomination (without turning out any better themselves). But there was no appetite at all for ‘a Mandela’ and no possibility for such a leader then, an idea that would have struck all sides as absurd. ‘Democracy’ and all it meant was what had ruined Germany – the Weimar Republic.

    The ingredients of revolution, as I say, are many and complex and do not boil down to being all taken in by ‘a demagogue’. Is SA really ripe for revolution at this time? Is the ANC a party of revolution or a party of the status quo? Can it settle its own internal divisions when the danger for itself as well as SA is the ANC’s monopoly of power and the lack of agency in the electorate.

    I agree the ANC cannot avoid responsibility for what happens, but our problems are not just one of good ‘leadership’.

    One day the party will have to decide what it stands for.

  15. Morgan Morgan 8 April 2010

    Great article Grant. History is so often the best by unused way to learn before a mistake is made. Invoke almost any despot’s name and you’ll see how a policy of ‘divide’ preceded ‘conquer’.

    @The Creator: I don’t know so much, hey. You can’t just call someone who disagrees with you a racist. It destroys any semblance of debate in a fiery ball of supercillious intolerance. How many times have I criticised a man shades darker than I, only to be called a racist. What you’re basically saying to us Creator, is that white’s are racists if they are racist. Whites are racist if they are critical of blacks. Whites are racist if they use western history as a reference point. Whites are racist if they are liberal. Whites are racist if they are conservative Afrikaaners. In your flawed, bitter and angry summation of whites… are any of us not racist? That seems a little racist.

  16. An observer An observer 8 April 2010

    all the rhetoric in the world cannot change that our poverty pockets, though not quite Auschwitz, exist and are awful. we see them at every glue-sniffing corner, in every bus-shelter hotel, in every 8km walk to rural school, etc. although we work hard, try our best, and even make small differences regularly and incrementally, not a single one of us knows as yet how to bring about wonderful, swift, radical transformation to national social and economic well-being.

    no, not a single one of us knows.

    least of all jm.

    for though he has agreed to task himself with a glorious vision, he is possibly and probably not the individual who has within him what is needed to bring about that vision. how else does one explain that he creates fictitious platforms to wage imaginary battles, rebels against authority figures, blames those who have found inner value or a space to contribute, surrounds himself with opportunistic people who can bolster him out of his suppressed feelings of inadequacy….

    indeed, it is enough that jm must face himself, let him be in peace, we wish him well.

    Before we talk of becoming Schindler’s and bringing in Allied forces, let us take responsibility for our decision.

    Let us respecify our leadership need for not only political brilliance, but also technical know-how, interpersonal skills, and impeccable integrity.

    Perhaps it’s time we stopped our title worshipping habits and started giving space, credit and followership to those who truly lead us.

  17. brent brent 8 April 2010

    One of my daughters in law is Croatian and is a wonderful lady. However she was caught up in the thick of that Serb/Croatian war for ±3 years and dislikes Serbs, pity it is the one flaw in an otherwise great person, that is what wars/revolutions cause in the long term.

    You might have mentioned that a Serbian nationalist sparked the 1st world war and the world still has not learend that revolutionary killings/hate does not solve problems, it enlarges them


  18. Grant Grant 8 April 2010

    Brent – pity about that, I have spent a lot of time in Croatia and Serbia and they are both great people and, ironically, virtually identical in most respects from looks through to language, character to outlook on life. The history of those two countries is more turbulent than ours. Instead of whining about how unfair it was to be subjugated by the Turks for 500 years, they are busy building developed European countries and in a few short decades will be great places to live again.

    If your daughter-in-law needs some balance, however, you can remind her that Croatia fought with the Nazi’s and put Serbs into concentration cams in WW2. There is no ‘good’ country and no good guy in war. It is senseless but often unavoidable due to our tribal nature as a species. The leaders that exploit that and cause war for selfish gain are evil beyond all definition.

  19. Oldfox Oldfox 8 April 2010

    Kool Kid ,

    Please tell me what percentage of (white commercial) farmers display “naked agression” as you put it, towards their farmworkers?
    Is it maybe 5%?

    I’m quite sure its not more than a tiny percentage.
    If SA white commercial farmers are such bad guys, why do African countries like Congo, Nigeria etc fall over their feet offering them very favourable terms, including government subsidies, to set up farm in those countries?

  20. RubinB RubinB 8 April 2010

    The song “Kill the Boer” may be racist, but Umshini Wam is not. I have figured out why Zuma wants his machine gun: It is to shoot leopards for his next wedding!

  21. Charlotte Charlotte 8 April 2010

    Oldfox has got it right! Not only that, who’s
    forcing farmworkers to work on farms anyway? If they’re so ill-treated and abused, why don’t they go and get themselves some other job? or educate themselves? or become self-reliant?

  22. Bibliophile Bibliophile 8 April 2010

    This exceptional article expresses my views and concerns exactly, poignantly and powerfully.

    Erudite writing!

  23. Jeff Jones 80 Jeff Jones 80 8 April 2010

    Got to agree that this is one of the best articles I have ever read on TL.
    @The Creator: you chose the wrong name pal, you sound more like The Destroyer.
    So Kitty Kat is a member of the ANCWL. Bwaahahahaha! They are even more useless than the ANCYL. Every time I see those big mamas in their Black, Green and Yellow uniforms, I really gotta laugh. Singing and ululating is the extent of their intellectual and political input.

  24. Tawanda Tawanda 9 April 2010

    To label Eugene Terre’Blanche as a “forgotten joke of South African politics” is an suspicious attempt to downplay the seriousness of his racist character which was aptly demonstrated in the past and which he continued to exhibit till death. His case is a particular case of a man who never respected the black man up to the point of not only employing a 15 year old but also failing to pay him. To water it down as a general racial feeling against whites is to miss the ball. I’m in no doubt that blacks who worked for him were the fore front receivers of his racial venom. There are many more like him out there. We all witnessed them soon after the death of Eugene. So this a case of a man who invited trouble all his life time…’s a pit he was allowed to go thus far! What must be appreciated is that as long as we have those isolated racist attitudes in our midst, those directly affected will take matters in their own hands.

  25. Zyd Zyd 9 April 2010


  26. Sarah Sarah 9 April 2010

    White South Africa thinks very low about their black counterparts. Some comments are abit too derogatory and illustrate continued racial perceptions of intellectual superiority on the parts of us whites. White-on-black hatred is alive and well in post-democratic SA. White South Africans can’t but disagree with the views of black people without painting him in apic terms, wounding his sense of self unjustly. Black man you are on your own (Steve Biko). Good luck.

  27. ian shaw ian shaw 20 November 2010

    Untrue. I as a white person admire and deeply appreciate black people like our health minister, who buckled down and helped needy patients during the strike, even though he has not practiced medicine for many eyars. I admired and apprciated his deputy, who tragically died young. These praiseworthy black people showed by their personal example what leadership without any self-interest should be. I hope that these are not isolated cases even if others who are equal to them are not as visible.

  28. ian shaw ian shaw 20 November 2010

    Speaking of racism: The Creator, please visit the following website:
    then tell us what you think.
    Commenting your diatribe: “white racism masquerading, as white racism usually does, as liberalism and a defence of human rights (read: privilege)”,… “sixteen years after liberation the whites are getting richer and the blacks poorer.” In other words, the ideaof human rights is just an invention concoted by racist whites and you as a black person do not support it.
    As to why balcks are getting poorer, why nota sk your ANC comrades as to why tehy did not pump up the economy with the billions they either squanderd or brazenly stored? Remember the huge lesson of teh Soviets who experopriated all private property, only to discover that this cna only be done once, and afterwards the rulers must recreaate the goods, continue producing food and machines, etc. The grand educartional system, that your ANC has been providing doe snot augur well for the skills needed to quickly replace whatever you take away. So what would this do to you lavish lifestyle guartanteed by your comrades?
    It is funny that you talk about “white fear”. Well, the English overcame their fear from the Nazis, the Boere overcame their fear form the Brits, and evidently your own freedom fighters overcame their fear of apartheid. So if you think that whites fear Malema, you are wrong. In fact, your own people will suffer much-much more under a Malema presidency. ,

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