Phosa link in call to boycott Afrikaans culture festival?

2015-02-10 16:25

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The ANC in Mpumalanga has called for the boycott of Innibos – an annual Afrikaans arts and culture festival – after a well-known artist sang the old national anthem last year.

Controversial Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr caused an outcry when he sang a rendition of Die Stem at the festival in Mbombela.

Mpumalanga ANC secretary, Lucky Ndinisa, told a media conference today that the provincial executive committee took a resolution that people should boycott the event and government departments should stop funding it.

The event is set to take place in June. Last year, the Mpumalanga department of sport, arts and culture pumped R400 000 into Innibos.

Ndinisa said: “The Innibos stands opposed to all reconciliatory initiatives the ANC and its government has over the past 21 years sought to build in South Africa. It stands opposed to our programme of social cohesion, social inclusion, racial integration and harmony, multi-cultural inclusivity, national pride and patriotism towards our vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.”

“Put simply, the event organisers are hell-bent through entrepreneurial enterprise to provide a platform that instills, revives, rebuilds and perpetuates racial hatred in South Africa and our province, particularly between the Afrikaans and African communities,” he added.

Ndinisa said the ANC would talk to government to withdraw funding and deploying officials such as traffic cops, police and emergency medical services to the event.

» Boycott not linked to Phosa

Ndinisa was, however, quick to deny that the PEC took this decision because former Mpumalanga premier and ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa sits on the Innibos board.

Phosa has angered many PEC members for submitting a document to Luthuli House that implies that Premier David Mabuza could have been an apartheid spy.

The Mpumalanga ANC Youth League has since accused Phosa of hating blacks and being too close to whites.

Phosa is fluent in Afrikaans and has published a volume of Afrikaans poems called Deur die oog van ‘n naald (Through the eye of a needle). He was also appointed a board member of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut – a multi-sectoral business organisation.

Phosa was also central to the violence that broke out between the SACP and ANC supporters in KaNyamazane outside Mbombela two weeks ago. The SACP wanted Phosa to speak at the lecture honouring former Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala and SACP stalwart Joe Slovo but the ANC wanted him taken off the programme.

“We’re in no way reducing this matter to one individual,” said Ndinisa.

Innibos spokesperson Sandra Jacobs said the ANC’s statement had taken them by surprise as they were apolitical and non-racial.

“This event brings more than R18m into the area. We’re not rightwing and we did issue a statement last year that Hofmeyr had deviated from the programme by singing Die Stem. We’ve not invited him this year and I understand there is a big rightwing boycott as a result,” said Jacobs.

She said Innibos was committed to social cohesion and its platform would not be used for political purposes.

Mpumalanga sports, arts and culture spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said: “We can’t comment about what was discussed outside government.”

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