What tomorrow may bring

2011-10-04 00:00

DEAR Mr Adriaan Basson,

The criticism that Afri-forum now has to fend off is a reflection of the significant impact that it has made on South Africa. That the organisation is now under a great deal of

national scrutiny is a good thing and an excellent test of its leadership.

However, your central assertion that Afrikaners are not under threat (The Witness, September 29) needs some unpacking. Indeed whites in general have thrived since 1994. This is not just a perception but a fact that my institute can prove with all manner of incomes, employment, and education data. However, to say that they are doing well today is to say nothing of what tomorrow may bring.

Our society is not necessarily sustainable over the long term. Inequalities and poverty levels are too high. Only half of young black men work. What this means for the middle-classes in South Africa, including Afrikaners, is that the world they are accustomed to may change. One of the drivers of this change will be radical politics that identifies the middle-classes, their assets, and their values as targets. This is again not a perception.

The Green Paper on land reform threatens the principle of property ownership that is essential to driving growth and investment. There are powerful political actors who talk of

nationalising assets, including mines and banks. Some of these same actors sing of killing Afrikaners in a pretty intimidating manner.

Lest we forget that more than 1 000 farmers have been murdered, we can only speculate as to why. Even freedom of speech and information that is such an essential component of a free and open society is under threat. These are reasons to be concerned about the future. I suppose that the charge will be put to me that in highlighting these risks I am only trying to protect white privilege.

Tedious as it is I must answer this charge by saying that if the risks I have pointed out come to pass then we will all be very much worse off. The wealthy and the middle-classes will lose their assets. More than this however, the poor and the emerging middle-classes will be denied the opportunity of ever assuming the lifestyles to which many white South Africans are accustomed.

With that our hard won freedoms will be lost. It is therefore not just the Afrikaners who are under threat. That Afri-

Forum chooses to take action with a strong focus on Afrikaners is a point that it must defend. It is also probably much of the reason why AfriForum gets so much critical press.

I expect that many people assumed after 1994 that provisions such as the Equality Act and Equality Courts were conceived with the idea that black victims of rights abuses would seek relief in them. That it is Afriforum that is using these provisions to such great effect might be regarded as an impertinence.

However, in doing so Afriforum has devised a powerful formula to use constitutional provisions to challenge powerful

people and the decisions they make. This is a model that we should want to see more of as it is the type of intervention that will help to guarantee that we remain a free and open society under the rule of law.

 

• Frans Cronje is deputy CEO, South African Institute of Race Relations.

— Politicsweb

 

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