It was high time the ANC reviewed the lyrics of struggle songs that depicted whites as enemies, President Jacob Zuma said.
Speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the fourth president of the ANC, Josiah Tshangana Gumede, who led the party from 1924 to 1930, Zuma said the singing of such songs in a democratic dispensation was "tantamount to making peace with a so-called enemy while waving a weapon".
This was after a struggle song, the lyrics of which, when loosely translated, are "We as the soldiers of Umkhonto we Sizwe are prepared to kill these Boers" was yesterday sung at Gumede's graveside, at Mountain Rise Cemetery, in Pietermaritzburg, with new lyrics.
The new line is "We as the soldiers of Umkhonto we Sizwe are prepared to reconcile with these Boers".
Zuma was in agreement with ANC national chairman Baleka Mbete, who had earlier called for a debate on certain songs' lyrics.
Mbete said that, when she first raised the issue, she was met with heated opposition from leaders and members of the party.
The lyrics of ANC struggle songs shot into the spotlight early last year when AfriForum raised a hate speech complaint after suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema sang the song Dubul'ibhunu (Shoot the Boer) at an ANC meeting.
In his ruling last year, Johannesburg High Court judge Colin Lamont said the song constituted hate speech. The judge prohibited Malema and the ANC from singing it, either in public or in private.
But ANC members and alliance partners said the ruling was destructive of the party's heritage.
After the judgment, Malema and some ANC members changed the lyrics to "Kiss the Boer".
Zuma said yesterday: "The debate on the songs with inflammatory lyrics is important. When we're moulding our country we need to say we unite all South Africans, even those we fought against [during the struggle].
"There's no need for certain people to feel unwelcome in their country. We need to include everyone in our country because the ANC will rule the country until those that are dead rise back to life."