It is a shame that inequality has become sharper during our constitutional democracy than during apartheid.
More sun than clouds. Mild.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel. (Siphiwe Sibeko, AFP)
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The reaction of black South Africans to AfriForum's plan to
privately prosecute EFF leader Julius Malema on charges of corruption was
overwhelmingly negative. Some said it was revenge for Malema's agitation around
land ownership. Others saw it as proof that all Afrikaners are racists. Most
reactions on mainstream and social media agree that it constituted a white
right wing attack on black people.
This was Malema's predictable reaction on Twitter: "Bring
it on bloody racists, you don't scare me at all. I'm born ready! No white man
will decide my destiny, the poor masses of our people will."
It is a fact, though, that the National Prosecuting Authority
(NPA) chose to ignore the prima facie evidence that Malema could have been
involved in tender fraud in Limpopo in 2012 and decided not to prosecute him.
During that time, Malema lived like a multimillionaire, possibly because of
these activities, as he was earning a modest salary then.
The NPA's actions, whether motivated by politics, undue
influence or incompetence, are unacceptable. Political accountability has
become seriously eroded in our society and should be restored urgently.
If Malema was/is corrupt, he needs to be exposed. Not only
is he the leader of the second biggest opposition party in Parliament, he may
actually be in government next year if the ANC fails to get an outright
majority at the general election and governs in coalition with the EFF.
Everything I know about AfriForum and its parent body, Solidarity,
and everything I have experienced through my interactions with some of its
leadership has made me suspicious too that its decision to prosecute Malema was
motivated by a desire to get at a militant black politician rather than to
uphold the rule of law.
AfriForum has a highly successful recipe as a lobby group.
It is a combination of effective action in local communities where the
authorities screwed up, providing good services to paid-up members and initiating
legal actions, but also by parading as the only voice of the "victimised"
Afrikaner minority and by stoking the fires of white paranoia in order to
recruit more members.
It reportedly has well over 200 000 members who pay a
minimum of R50 monthly membership fees. AfriForum is probably the wealthiest
NGO on the continent and also sells insurance and legal, financial and other
services to members at a good profit.
Occasionally AfriForum acts on behalf of someone who isn't a
white Afrikaner so it can market itself as a civil rights movement rather than
the white Afrikaner nationalist body it really is.
AfriForum is therefore not going to go away any time soon.
My objection, and that of many other Afrikaners and other white people, is that
the rest of our nation tends to see all of us as part of AfriForum – as someone
recently said to me on social media: "Some of you are less crude, but deep
down you are all like AfriForum."
I have publicly explained on many occasions that I view
AfriForum as a dangerous political force and that its politics can only bode
ill for white people and the prospects of peaceful coexistence in South Africa.
It should do the honourable thing: register as a political
party and take part in elections so voters can hold it accountable. Its leaders'
denials that it is a political organisation are laughable – it already acts as
a political party at universities by putting up its own candidates for Student
I can only hope that AfriForum will, in the tumultuous
months ahead, start realising that its approach is not productive if furthering
the interests of minorities is really what they aim to achieve. There is
probably some room for a sober, reasonable voice that wants to speak for the
white minority, but there is no room for an arrogant, aggressive voice that
insults the majority and furthers racial polarisation.
I wish AfriForum would get involved in the plight of
Afrikaans speakers in "coloured" townships where people's lives are
hell because of gang violence and poverty. It should launch a project to fight
the crude racism among its own support base. Surely eradicating white racism is
in the interest of the white minority?
AfriForum should use its substantial financial and human
resources to help out at the dysfunctional state hospitals and township and
rural schools where the government has failed citizens so miserably. Rather
than use its student formations as a form of militia, AfriForum should organise
outreach programmes where black and white students can get to know and
understand each other.
AfriForum has the services of the competent prosecutor
Gerrie Nel. Why only focus on black public personalities it views as its
enemies such as Malema and Duduzane Zuma? Why not also privately prosecute
others that the NPA is neglecting to prosecute, like the killers of Marikana or
the rich white businesspeople whose corruption bankrupts ordinary people? Now
that would be a service to the nation.
AfriForum should stop using farm murders as an emotional
tool to recruit more people and rather focus on making farms safe. Farm
killings are indeed a serious problem and using it as a political football does
farmers no favour. And AfriForum should get rid of the apartheid denialists in
its leadership that have been making outrageous and hurtful statements in
If AfriForum does all this, it will suddenly find a lot of
goodwill from the rest of South Africa's people. We will stop seeing them as a
bunch of dangerous, greedy racists and ethnic chauvinists and we may even join
hands with them.
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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