ANC meets Afrikaner organisations to improve relations

2012-05-08 10:15

The ANC is today meeting a group of 19 Afrikaner organisations to discuss ways of bridging the gap between white Afrikaans speakers and the ruling party.

Afrikaner professionals, academics, religious and business organisations will hold discussions with the ANC’s task team led by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe under the theme “Afrikaner Dialogue” at the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton.

This after a group of Afrikaans-speaking academics submitted to the ANC that the white Afrikaner community is feeling alienated from the party that has governed the democratic South Africa for the past 18 years.

In the document submitted to the ANC the academics charged that the party is perceived as being “directionless in leadership” and a party of “contending factions” with a leadership that does not seem to be “staying on the message”.

The meeting will kick off the process of finding out why white Afrikaners feel alienated from both the ruling party and government processes.

In January the ANC met three Afrikaans academics at its headquarters Luthuli House to discuss a relationship with the community, as part of the party’s outreach initiative.

University of Johannesburg’s lecturers Piet Croucamp and Albert Venter, as well as Willie Breytenbach from the University of Stellenbosch attended the meeting.

Plans for the summit were mooted after the ANC’s special projects coordinators in Mantashe’s office, Daryl Swanepoel and Renier Schoeman, met with three academics in Luthuli House in January as part of the party’s outreach initiative.

In their January discussion with the ANC the academics said there is a general perception in their community that the ANC is “no longer the well-disciplined party of the struggle” and that it has become a party of contending factions that has lost its “pre-apartheid moral high ground”.

Many of the ANC’s public representatives were prioritising their own careers and business interest instead of the South African citizens, said the academics.

In addition to that, white Afrikaans speakers accuse the ANC of lacking “real commitment” to

“Afrikaans elite groups find access to ruling party and government structures extremely difficult, they perceive an unwillingness of the ruling party to take Afrikaner concerns regarding the preservation of Afrikaans cultural symbols and history seriously,” said the academics.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told City Press last week that the ANC appreciated input from all sectors of society including white Afrikaners.

“We must make sure there’s no group of South Africans that feel they’re not valued. We wouldn’t like to have any group in South Africa feeling that they are marginalised,” said Mthembu.

Today’s meeting is expected to be followed by a four-month long research study among white Afrikaners that will provide answers to the ideological distance between them and the ANC.

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