'Racist kids from Pretoria' AfriForum slammed for tirade about land

AfriForum's Ernst Roets Picture: Theana Breugem
AfriForum's Ernst Roets Picture: Theana Breugem

MPs from across the political spectrum, black and white, condemned the alt-right lobby group AfriForum after its submission to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee on Thursday afternoon, drawing comparisons to the neo-fascist Black First Land First (BLF) movement who made a presentation to the committee a day before.

AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets said expropriation without compensation, or compensation below market price, showed disrespect to property rights, a basic human right.

He said the "ANC-EFF alliance" pursued a communist agenda based on lies.

"The first false argument is an oversimplified, twisted perspective of history," he said.

"The second is the ideological viewpoint that centralisation of the power in the state will be to the benefit of the public. 

"Third, the policy is built on the false argument that the eroding of property rights and tampering with healthy market principles will lead to economic growth."

READ: BLF wants 'all the land in white hands'

He said the "biggest historic fallacy" of current time was that whites stole the land.

He said they got land through settling on empty land, the purchase of land through treaties, cooperation, agreements and conquests.

Roets alleged that black people's hunger for agricultural land was a myth, because of all the land claims to date, 59% were filed in urban areas and of all land grabs in recent years, 84% were in urban areas.

"The gratification that the ANC-EFF alliance get from hurting the middle class and the wealthy outweigh the desire to uplift poor people."

He said the ANC and EFF were "drunk on the ideology of the failed national democratic revolution".

ANC MP Moloko Maila said the argument that whites settled on empty land was the "biggest hogwash" he had ever heard.

'Deep anger'

IFP MP Elphas Buthelezi asked Roets if his assertions were based on research or on a "deep anger you have for the ANC and EFF".

"You have taken everything that belongs to us," EFF MP Tebogo Mokwele said. "That is why you are so arrogant to us. You think we are inhuman."

"Let me tell you my brother from another mother, we are going to take the land, whether you like it or not," she said.

Mncedisi Filtane of the UDM, who have long mooted the idea of an agricultural Codesa, said Roets' presentation hardened his attitude.

"Maybe we don't need a Codesa."

He said a constitutional amendment must be sped up. 

"We are wasting time talking. There was no talking 400 years ago, people were killed.

"This talk is a waste of time with characters like this in South Africa!"

Committee co-chairperson Lewis Nzimande pointed out that the committee's process would continue.

The usually jocular Filtane left the committee room later when Roets responded.

"Don't come here and misrepresent facts!" ANC MP Madipoane Mothapo said, adding that Roets displayed "sheer insanity and drunkenness on hatred".

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said the committee should not be "agitated by racist Afrikaner children".

He said the "racist kids from Pretoria" followed the CRC to its public hearings in an attempt to collapse it.

"If you're threatening us with war, we are ready," Shivambu said.

ANC MP Nick Koornhof said AfriForum acted as a "white BLF" and said they were not representative of all white South Africans.

"What you did today is a disgrace to your organisation," he said.

He said they had representatives at most of the CRC's public hearings, and wanted to know if they did not report back about the hunger for land black people expressed there.

ACDP MP Steve Swart, in his usual polite way, said: "Ek is teleurgesteld met jul submissie vandag (I'm disappointed in your submission today)".

'Building the country'

Swart said he had spent the past 20 years in Parliament, building the country.

"You are taking us back.

"Your insults to the people sitting here is unacceptable."

He said it was the same as when the BLF attacked him as a white person.

The DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said: "This is a missed opportunity for you. And I can't align myself with anything you said."

Roets said he came to the meeting to "expose what the ANC and EFF are doing" and accused MPs of raising "strawmen" arguments against him.

After the meeting, Nzimande said in a statement: "It was overall a good day. Emotions ran a bit high when members of Parliament felt insulted by the manner in which the presentation was delivered by AfriForum.

"It is a pity they wasted the opportunity to contribute on a way forward for all South Africans as their presentation did not speak to the subject matter of whether the Constitution should be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation."

Earlier the House of Traditional Leaders said they support amending the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, but this should not include traditional land. 

The South African Human Rights Commission said the Constitution allows expropriation without compensation. Commissioner André Gaum said it should be achieved through legislation rather than amending the Constitution. 

"Land is dignity. The restoration of land rights is the restoration of dignity," said Commissioner JB Sibanyoni said.

On Friday the committee will continue its work, with several submissions from the banking sector expected.

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