Guest Column

AfriForum stands on middle ground

2018-06-22 10:54
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel in conversation with News24's Mahlatse Mahlase.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel in conversation with News24's Mahlatse Mahlase. (Screen grab, news24 video)

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Kallie Kriel

It is quite strange to see how some commentators have, especially since AfriForum’s visit to the USA, falsely attempted to present the organisation’s justified campaigns against expropriation without compensation and against farm murders as radical or right-wing.

Even stranger still are the attempts of some to unfairly compare the real concern over the threat of property rights and tortures that take place on farms to the hate rhetoric and racism of Julius Malema and the EFF.

The truth is that AfriForum strives to, as was the case since the organisation’s establishment in 2006, help build a society that is based on the principle of mutual recognition and respect between communities, and where space is also allowed for minorities to, in cooperation with the rest of the South African society, make a positive contribution towards a better future. AfriForum does this in a peaceful manner and within the framework of the law.

What did, in fact, change in the past couple of months, is that the ANC as ruling party in December 2017 officially accepted expropriation without compensation as party policy. Disrespecting property rights is a radical fringe phenomenon – not the campaigns against it. By driving a campaign for the protection of property rights, AfriForum is standing firmly on the middle ground. To protect property rights is not only in the interest of a part of South Africa’s society, but in the interest of everyone.

The Zimbabwe example proves that disrespecting property rights destroys a country’s economy to the detriment of all: The Zimbabwean unemployment rate is currently higher than 90%. As a middle ground organisation, AfriForum, as well as other people who see themselves as part of this centre, has the duty to oppose with all means at our disposal radical policy directions such as expropriation without compensation. This includes to mobilise international pressure and to locally take part in the debate to find solutions.

AfriForum cannot and will not sit back and merely hope that South Africa is spared the destructive road of Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Cuba. To truly act to protect South Africa’s economy against the contempt of property rights is the right thing to do.

Currently AfriForum has more than 209 000 members; the Solidarity Movement, of which AfriForum forms a part, represents more than 400 000 families. Those who try to maliciously reduce AfriForum, the Solidarity Movement and these organisations’ members to fringe figures, purposefully hold themselves blind to the tenfold actions of AfriForum and the Solidarity Movement that are aimed at promoting mutual recognition and respect between communities and helping to ensure justice for all.

Where AfriForum is concerned, this organisation is, for example, currently battling a court case on behalf of a traditional community in Nkandla to ensure that the state builds a school to provide the community with access to education. The Vaaltyn traditional community is currently being supported by Adv Gerrie Nel and his team in their battle against a mining group that is looting their land. There are many other examples, among others the legal support that AfriForum provided to the Wallmansthal Communal Property Association, as well as the Dube family in the criminal case against Duduzane Zuma, and to Gabriella Engels in the assault case against Grace Mugabe.

In addition to this there is also the stellar work that AfriForum’s more than 6 600 volunteers do nationwide to improve local communities. AfriForum’s community projects – which are each to the benefit of all communities – includes the battle that AfriForum’s 115 community safety structures are waging against crime, the 16 000 potholes that AfriForum filled in 2017 and the tests on water sources used by millions of people nationwide. There are countless other examples.

The mutual recognition and respect between communities for which AfriForum itself is striving, is not promoted in a public debate where those that dare risk to differ from the ANC and ruling order’s views are vilified, silenced and hanged false labels around their necks. Should AfriForum let itself be forced into silence through these types of attacks, it will in future become increasingly more difficult to present alternative views and to have a nuanced public debate. AfriForum’s members and supporters, who inherently form a part of the moderate middle ground, realise this – and for that very reason AfriForum’s membership numbers are growing strongly despite attempts to silence AfriForum’s voice.

AfriForum will continue to actively take part in public debates and to drive campaigns against injustices such as expropriation without compensation, farm murders and other focal issues. This organisation will also unceasingly continue to take on projects that promote mutual recognition and respect among communities. The alternative – to remain quiet and do nothing – is not an option for AfriForum.

- Kriel is CEO of AfriForum.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24

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