The honourable thing for AfriForum to do

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel. (Siphiwe Sibeko, AFP)
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel. (Siphiwe Sibeko, AFP)

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 Representative Councils.

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 recent times.

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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