Max du Preez

AfriForum 'hijacking the Afrikaner mainstream'

2016-07-26 07:26

Max du Preez

Talking about state capture, we’re presently experiencing another, subtler but equally dangerous hijacking: that of the Afrikaner mainstream by Solidariteit and AfriForum.

Solidariteit has its roots in the far-rightwing Mynwerkersunie, but in the mother of all makeovers over the last 15 years it has morphed into a movement that positions itself as the authentic voice and main champion of Afrikanerdom.

Solidariteit and its main offspring parading as a civic rights organisation, AfriForum, were strategically so brilliant that most Afrikaner opinion leaders and the Afrikaans media are nowadays treating them as key role players and Afrikaner leaders. Many of these new AfriForum praise singers still parade as progressives and most of them, I suspect, are DA supporters.

It reminds me of the old apartheid days when it was said of some English-speaking liberals that they talked Progressive Party, belonged to the United Party and thanked God for the National Party.

Make no mistake, Solidariteit is a good union when it comes to guarding the interests of its members. AfriForum has also done some good work on the ground keeping local authorities in check.

The Solidarity Movement, as they call themselves, has a brilliant business model that made them one of the richest non-governmental organisations in the country. It gets good revenue, many millions each month, from the ample contributions from Solidariteit’s 150 000 members and AfriForum’s 172 000 members, but it really profits from the activities of its business arm and the business it does with its members, like insurance. (Author Christi van der Westhuizen has called this “ethnic entrepreneurship”.)

This is all fine and good, as is the fact that Solidariteit assisted four SABC journalists in court, although I do get a whiff of opportunism – just two weeks ago, for example, the Cape High Court said that AfriForum’s court action against Stellenbosch activist Johan Pienaar would have had a “chilling effect” on free speech.

But here’s the dark side of the movement – actually, AfriForum more than Solidarity, if one can differentiate.

AfriForum trades in fear and ethnic mobilisation. It only serves the interests of Afrikaans Christians.

It has demonstrated repeatedly that intolerance, ethnic chauvinism, intimidation, crude propaganda, confrontation and provocation are part of its strategic arsenal.

In the eyes of most South Africans, they are hard-core racists and this has done much damage to the popular perception of Afrikaners, because they parade as the true face of Afrikaners.

I have seen cellphone messages from AfriForum sent to tens of thousands of people stating that the ANC was planning to close down Afrikaans schools and to seize half of all Afrikaans businesses. If you want to stop this, join AfriForum, it says. Naked fear-mongering.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said last week after yet another failed AfriForum court case that AfriForum was “divisive, somewhat selfish”.

In their minority judgment, Justices Edwin Cameron and Johan Froneman raged against AfriForum’s references in its founding affidavit to the “so-called historical injustices of the past” and said: “So-called! This embodies the kind of insensitivity that poisons our society. Apartheid was all too real. And it was profoundly pernicious.”

After Afrikaans newspapers reported on Potchefstroom students giving the Nazi salute during initiation two years ago, AfriForum initiated a boycott and threatened and intimidated these newspapers so viciously that some of them are now sucking up to AfriForum and are reluctant to publish negative stories about it.

If you want to see the real face of AfriForum, don’t rely on the polite interviews its leaders give to the media. Go listen to what its activists and protesters say and what its members write on social media. Pure vitriol and more often than not profoundly racist and apartheid denialist.

I have been to the campuses of the universities of Pretoria, Free State and Potchefstroom. I have no doubt that AfriForum’s storm troopers had inflicted serious damage on the cause of the Afrikaans language and the image of Afrikaners.

A recent example: in his judgment in the Pienaar case last week judge AJ Donen said that the AfriForum protesters at Stellenbosch were guilty of “assault, sexual violence, sexual aggression and intimidation”.

If you dare criticise AfriForum, you are confronted by an aggressive, vicious ad hominem campaign on social media and elsewhere.

Is this the real face of Afrikaners in 2016? I hope not.

So, fellow Afrikaners, if you want the flame of exclusive Afrikaner nationalism, isolation, chauvinism and entitlement to burn high again with the inevitable accompanying thuggery and racism, then yes, join AfriForum.

But if you want to be a decent citizen living in harmony with the rest of our nation in the spirit of our Constitution, then halt this capture of Afrikanerdom and say loud and clear so all can hear: Ons is nie almal só nie.

- Follow Max on Twitter.

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