The F-word – Don’t hate, learn from AfriForum

2011-10-01 09:15

There seems to be a growing obsession about where rightwing formation AfriForum gets its funding.

Some even call for its disbanding because it openly represents the interests of a specific section of the South African landscape.

It is important that we remind ourselves that AfriForum has a legal and constitutional right to exist and to pander to any constituency they wish.

Only when their actions can be shown to be “unfairly” discriminating against other South Africans can we start wanting to legislate them away.

Those who worry about AfriForum tend to do this to hide their own inaction. If they were as worried about the rights of black people as they claim, they would be doing something about it instead of wishing AfriForum would stop doing what it is doing for its white constituency.

The unpalatable truth is that AfriForum owes black people nothing.

There is nothing stopping black people from establishing an organisation such as AfriForum and taking on the interests of their people in the same way that AfriForum takes care of white interests.

So instead of wasting time and energy wishing AfriForum away, perhaps other civil society organisations should learn from it. For whatever it is, their funding model works.

They are probably the most effective civil society formation since the heydays of the Treatment Action Campaign. Even, better, they are making a difference in the lives of their chosen market. And they are doing it legally.

The anti-AfriForum frenzy comes from the same misguided notion that being pro one thing necessarily means being anti other things.

Incidentally, it is black organisations such as the Black Management Forum, Black Lawyers Association, the Native Club and the ill-fated Forum for Black Journalists which have borne the brunt of the limited thinking that one cannot be sensitive to the peculiar history of black subjugation and still believe in non-racialism.

If AfriForum finds that white people are being marginalised and it has lawful remedies to prevent this from occurring, why shouldn’t it use them?

They punch above their weight because they are an extremely well organised outfit that is able to find loopholes in the establishment to ensure their members have the “better life” promised, but not delivered, to all.

Black people, on the other hand, have political hegemony but do not seem to believe it.

Thanks to an array of state interventions such as economic empowerment, employment equity and student loans, they also have more money and skills than they have ever had before.

That is not to say the vast majority of black people no longer live in debilitating poverty, because they still do.

Nothing stops black people from starting organisations that seek to protect their interests as a group.

Nothing stops township residents from pooling their resources and establishing an organisation that ensures that someone pays when yet another child falls into an unfilled manhole and dies.

Whose fault is it that while most black people legitimately plead historic disadvantage, those who have the means to make a change choose to spend their money proving what successful black diamonds they are?

Accepting that AfriForum might be driven by an anti-establishment ethos or even an anti-black government bias, nothings stops those who are pro-establishment and who seek to protect the integrity of a black-led government from starting their own organisations and protecting their government.

It would obviously be great for the spirit of non-racialism if AfriForum was interested in everyone’s issues and not just those of white Afrikaners, but nobody can legally make them care about those they choose not to care about.

It does not need AfriForum to tell us what Steve Biko articulated in very simple terms more than three decades ago – black person, you are (still) on your own.

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