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More stringent measures needed to tackle racism: Zuma

Cape Town, Nov 9 (IANS) More stringent measures are needed to tackle racism amid a resurgence of the scourge, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

The Department of Justice is finalising the legislation to outlaw hate speech and racism as there should be consequences for such unpatriotic and divisive conduct which seeks to take the country backwards, Zuma told the National Council of Provinces, the Upper House of Parliament, Xinhua reported.

Zuma was referring to the Black Monday protests against farm murders on October 30, during which some participants were holding the South African apartheid flag.

The protests have sparked a controversy in South Africa still divided along racial lines.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) and other organisations labelled the Black Monday movement as “racially motivated,” but organisers say the protests were designed to raise awareness about a sharp increase in farm murders.

Zuma voiced “serious concern” that some of the people who took part in the protests displayed symbols of racism and of the past such as the old apartheid flag.

“This means that some compatriots yearn for the past in which black people were subjugated and treated as pariahs in the land of their birth.

“This conduct is disgusting, shocking and grossly insensitive. It indicates how far we still need to go in building a new society,” Zuma said.

As the country will celebrate the National Reconciliation Day next month, Zuma reminded all South Africans that they have a responsibility to promote unity and social cohesion.

Zuma also urged South Africans to take advantage of the centenary of late President Nelson Mandela next year to promote non-racialism, unity and nation building.

Zuma has repeatedly warned against racism resurgence in South Africa recently.

In April this year, Zuma said racists in the country “have become more emboldened.”

There have been growing calls for punishing racism by law.

The South African government has published the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill for public comments.

Once it becomes law, the legislation will criminalise several forms of discrimination including on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and nationality.

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