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ANC: ‘Boer’ doesn’t mean white

The ANC says it’s unfortunate people were offended by Ramaphosa’s ‘boer comment’ in Limpopo.

FILE: ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG - The ruling party on Tuesday said the word 'boer' doesn't refer to white people and that ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's use of the word isn't derogatory.

According to a report in The Star newspaper, Ramaphosa told a crowd in a Limpopo town, "If all South Africans don't vote, we will regress. The boers will come back to control us."

In a statement on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said it's unfortunate that people were offended by his use of the term.

He used the word "unfortunate" several times in his statement but did not apologise for making the comment.

Ramaphosa says the word isn't meant to be derogatory, saying he believes the phrase is used by black South Africans to refer to the apartheid regime.

The ANC's Keith Khoza agrees, saying Ramaphosa isn't referring to a specific group of people but rather the previous rulers.

"The meaning of it, in terms of the usage by the ANC, has always been about the minority government," he explains.

"We've used 'boers' consistently and everybody understood what we meant. When we say, 'the boers', we meant the apartheid government."

Khoza said those who claimed Ramaphosa was making racial comments were being disingenuous.

But Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder says this kind of language is unnecessary.

"That's an easy way of scaring people; you don't need to debate them, you don't need to address issues, you don't need to argue with them. You just scare them and hope they will vote."

Mulder says this language can damage the nation.

"Surely that's the type of thing that polarises our society. Now, all elections do polarise you, but I don't think we need more than [what] we [already] have in South Africa."

Meanwhile, the ANC on Monday said it would be taking the _City Press _newspaper to the ombudsman for their coverage of the visit to Seshego.

The party said the newspaper's claims that Ramaphosa was poorly received in the area, which is also the hometown of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, was "fabricated."

The paper is yet to respond to the claims.