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White supremacist’s murder sparks tensions

President Zuma urged calm after the killing of white supremacist leader Eugene Terre’Blanche. The ANC’s youth leader is banned from singing “shoot the Boer.” Desmond Tutu speaks out for gay rights. Caster Semenya pushes to race again despite gender questions. South Africa and China sign business deals worth US$315.3 million. And a fast-food chain promotes a meal deal for men with multiple wives.

 Top News: Eugene Terre’Blanche, the notorious white supremacist leader, was hacked to death at his farm in Ventersdorp, allegedly by two of his farm workers after a dispute over wages. His death has sparked fears of renewed racial tensions in South Africa, a country already on edge over the singing of a song with lyrics advocating the killing of white farmers. President Jacob Zuma appealed for calm after Terre’Blanche’s murder, which he called a “terrible deed.”

A court had recently banned Julius Malema, leader of the ruling African National Congress’s youth wing, from performing an apartheid struggle song that includes the lyrics “Dubula ibhunu,” which means “shoot the Boer,” a term referring to white farmers. The ban sparked a debate over freedom of speech and the country’s apartheid past. An estimated 3,000 white farmers have been murdered since 1994.

Terre’Blanche founded the fringe Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging movement, known as the AWB, which has a Nazi swastika-like logo and came to prominence in the 1980s and 90s while pushing for a whites-only state in South Africa. The group advocated civil war instead of accepting majority rule, and was found to be behind numerous bombings and other violent acts. Terre’Blanche was the subject of two fascinating but terrifying Nick Broomfield documentaries.

Meanwhile, Malema, the ANC Youth League leader, has travelled to Zimbabwe where he praised President Robert Mugabe’s economic policies and said he wanted to mimic them in South Africa by nationalizing farms and mines. Under Mugabe’s rule, Zimbabwe’s economy has been destroyed in part through often-violent seizures of white-owned farms.

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu stood up for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered rights in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Tutu wrote that the recent jailing of gay men in Malawi and legislation under debate in Uganda, which mandates life imprisonment for gay people, amount to “terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.” Tutu linked the struggle for gay rights in Africa to that against apartheid. 

Caster Semenya, the 800-meter world champion who has not raced since she won the world title in August, pending the results of a gender verification test, has instructed her lawyers to start legal action to help her return to running. The 19-year-old Semenya has not been banned from running, but agreed to not race until the test results were complete. Her lawyers said that they will fight for her right to compete, after she was barred from running in a South African meet last week. In a statement Semenya criticized the IAAF for taking so long to deliver its ruling.

Money: The World Bank pushed its members to back a $3.7 billion loan for the Medupi coal-fired power plant in South Africa, ahead of a vote later this week. The controversial power plant, owned by troubled state-owned power utility Eskom, would be one of the largest in the world and is intended to help the country with its serious energy shortages, but has been criticized for carbon emissions and contributing to global warming.

South Africa and China signed business deals worth US$315.3 million, Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper reported. The contracts will see South Africa exporting more goods to China, including mohair, frozen fish, abalone, copper and manganese, according to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. China is South Africa's largest trading partner.

A survey by South Africa’s tourism department found that half of all hotels in South Africa will be charging premium rates during the World Cup, which runs for a month starting June 11, and almost a quarter of hotels will mark up their prices by more than 50 percent above 2010 high-season rates. Organizers fear that fewer tourists than expected will attend the soccer championships. South African airlines and hotels have been criticized for inflating their prices.

Elsewhere: A South African fast-food chain known for its topical and sometimes controversial advertisements has drawn heat for a TV commercial that promotes a meal deal for men with multiple wives. The ad for the “Mzanzi meal” (Mzanzi is a slang word for South Africa) at spicy chicken chain Nando’s plays on the attention focused recently on President Jacob Zuma’s polygamy. It features a white South African man with up to eight wives, and has drawn complaints that Nando’s is promoting infidelity.

Thousands of health workers will hand out 2.5 billion condoms and test 15 million people for HIV, in a health ministry effort to be launched this month ahead of the World Cup. It is said to be the world's largest AIDS prevention campaign. South Africa has the highest number people infected with HIV in the world. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has asked 9,000 retired doctors and health workers, as well as medical students, to help with the $190 million campaign. One billion condoms will be distributed at public sites, including hotels for football fans, during the month-long soccer tournament.