Solidarity can include me out

2010-10-02 10:10

I divorced my labour union this week, but not for the usual reasons.

Solidarity bosses Flip Buys and Dirk Hermann are not into ­expensive wheels, lush lifestyles and designer wardrobes.

Neither is Kallie Kriel, executive director of Solidarity’s Afrikaner civil rights arm, ­AfriForum.

Solidarity receive my monthly membership fees via Absa; my bank, Kriel’s bank, Hermann’s bank and the bank at the centre of their latest snot-en-trane (snot and tears) crusade against what they think Afrikaners suffer in the new South Africa.

Kriel and Co are 40ish, conservative, grey, short-back-and-sides types.

They have been an integral ­feature of the post-1994 political landscape?– friendly, media-savvy guys, liked by journalists.

I sent them a resignation letter because, God help us, these friendly fellows have morphed into an ugly gang of pale-faced Julius Malemas.

Self-appointed masters of the opinions of the universe, the Afrikaner universe included, they plot the downfall of the bank that abundantly sponsors the beloved Afrikaner game of rugby.

Being much older than Kriel, old enough to remember the horrors of the hou-jou-bek (shut up) regime of Groot Krokodil PW Botha, the best I can say of this noodle-headed campaign is that it stinks.

And I wonder how the “few thousand” black members of Solidarity feel about these Malema clones who violently storm the table to get their own way – in this case, snow-white rugby teams.

Kriel and Co’s terror tactics are not only objectionable because they are reminiscent of the hou-jou-bek life in that evil era when a mean-mouthed gang of old ooms and tantes (uncles and aunts) controlled what South Africans were allowed to read, believe and say.

They stink because Solidarity and AfriForum base their boycott of the bank on an Absa executive’s brief SMSed opinion questioning the whiteness of our provincial rugby teams.

He had a perfectly valid concern. I have not seen more than two or three black players in the Currie Cup matches my family watched recently.

The message Louis von Zeuner, executive deputy head of Absa, sent to Oregan Hoskins, president of the SA Rugby Union, reads as follows: “Regan, I think you should write to the major unions on black players – judging from today’s games Lions 2, Bulls 1, Cheetahs 2 – they are not respecting the spirit and goals of transformation. Louis.”

Maria Ramos, Von Zeuner’s boss, added insult to Kriel and Co’s injury when she supported him in a statement pointing out that Absa could not shirk from what South Africans should not shirk from: the challenge of building a more inclusive society.

And on Wednesday the iron lady stared down the hou-jou-bek brigade in her office, refusing to submit to its demand that Absa commit itself to being silent on the delicate matter.

Von Zeuner, Ramos and all South Africans who are committed to fairness and equality in a united South Africa have a glorious Constitution-backed right to air their views.

I endorse that right. I am as concerned as Von Zeuner about rugby transformation and I have the right to trumpet it loudly and clearly.

Why, Mr Hoskins, are our provincial rugby teams almost exclusively white after 16 years of rainbow-nation building?

Where are the black rugby players promised us by provincial rugby unions who, if you believe what they say, for the past 16 years poured money and effort into the development of the game in disadvantaged sections of the population?

Kriel, when I gave him notice of our divorce this week, ruefully remarked that he owed Absa a lot of money.

May he be the first to do what he and my former labour union now encourage Afrikaners to do?– transfer his debt to another bank.

These days we can say, believe and write what we like.

Life is so lekker that the born-frees among us don’t know the meaning of the word dissident.

 I like it. Most South Africans like it.

And like Malema, Kriel and Co had better learn a little respect for the way the rest of us want to live.

I hope Von Zeuner’s SMS ignites a fruitful debate not only about the whiteness of our rugby teams but ­also about the deep-rooted Afrikaner conviction that the game of rugby is the property of what they still call the volk (nation), not to be sullied by the presence of too many darkie players on the field.

I hope Afrikaners respond to Kriel and Co’s shenanigans in the words borrowed from a 1940s movie mogul, Sam Goldwyn, whose hilarious use of the English language is quoted in many a book about Hollywood: ­“Include me out,” he said.

» Waldner is a senior reporter for City Press

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