OPINION

South Africans becoming more intolerant of each other – Afrikanerbond

Organisation says minorities must find each other and search for commonalities for joint discussions with govt

South Africans becoming more intolerant of each other

27 February 2017

During a meeting of the National Council of the Afrikanerbond held 23-24 February 2017 outside Kuilrivier in die Western Cape, Mr Jaco Schoeman was re-elected as chairperson of the Afrikanerbond.

Mr Jaco Schoeman, has a medical technology background which led to several visits abroad. He started his ownprivate practice in Port Elizabeth in 1991, where he specialised in reproductive biology. He is currently a farmer in Barkly East in the Eastern Cape.

During his acceptance as chairperson of the Afrikanerbond, Mr Schoeman said: "Being an Afrikaner places a person in a minority group within a plurality of minorities. The dilemma is that we as Afrikaners are particularly loyal to the country, loves the land and nurtures our language use by so many. Because we are so passionate about the realisation of our language and culture, it made us a target of government which amongst others want to take away our land. Our language is placed on the altar of political correctness, both by government but also some in our midst, who are not serious about Afrikaans. Because we are loyal to the country it brings us in conflict with government because we are critical of the destructive ideology of this government."

This ideology, through which a new racism is spawned, brings the question of land ownership to the fore. False accusations of land theft are made in hate speech   with claims that land can only belong to the black population and this requires additional and urgent attention. Afrikaners obtained land honourably, they developed land, established infrastructure and produced food. They named themselves, and their language after the continent in which the country of their birth is. In addition, they have developed their skills to such an extent that that they are regarded as among the world's best farmers, popular in many parts of the world, especially in Africa. Their particular skills with agricultural upliftment and food security are widely recognised, but in South Africa it is becoming increasingly difficult for them. Afrikaners also fought the largest liberation war to date within the borders of this country against colonial domination.

"Therefore, we need to guard against the excesses against every minority group which is so often heard from political schools of thought. Not only are Afrikaners targets but also other communities which made South Africa their home in the last decades and centuries. One do not have to search too far to find criticism bordering on racism against Afrikaners, towards Jews, Indians, Chinese and others. Xenophobic attacks on non-South Africans are also a manifestation of this, as well as the ethnic tribal conflicts that occurred recently in Limpopo.”

We also need to add our voice in raising extreme concern over the spate of farm attacks and murders. Already there have been more brutal farm murders and deaths, than during the struggle against apartheid, the fight on the borders of South Africa in the 70's to the 90's or even many international wars. The Afrikanerbond considers this situation very seriously and will make its structures, leadership and expertise available to all initiatives in curbing this violence. To merely close the eyes to this crime can no longer be tolerated. It is unfortunate that even a request for a debate about this crisis in parliament has been rejected. This confirms the suspicions of unwillingness, misunderstanding or even deliberate behaviour which is further reinforced by the lack of action by the government.

Diversity which is defined in South Africa as the different language, culture and faith communities are supposed to receive recognition and support. In other parts of the world these minorities receive rights and protection, but it is denied in South Africa. Diversity is and remains a given in South Africa but we are only paying lip service to diversity. Efforts to promote diversity are conveniently dismissed as racism and against the spirit of nation building and unity. The South African reality is ignored and the tensions are temporarily papered over.”

Mr. Schoeman added: "During our recent national council meeting we discussed this new racism which we believe is fuelled by the promotion of narrow political agendas. We have previously warned that Mr Zuma in person and elements in the ruling party are busy dividing the South African society. Their actions and behaviour are dangerous routes for the country and our constitutional democracy. South Africa requires statesmanship, not thoughtless and divisive statements or performances."

Minorities in general feel more marginalised than before and in our experience there is a greater polarisation between communities, but even more so between civil society and government. Therefore it is important that minorities start to find each other and to search for commonalities for further and joint discussions with government. Some of the crucial points of departure must include:

- That the diverse South African communities are loyal to South Africa and, therefore it is in our combined interest that South Africa is governed successfully;

- That there is great expertise and experience in these South African communities, and that this expertise is at the disposal of government;

- That there be constructive participation in discussions and dialogue with government but it is necessary that the aim must be to ensure positive outcomes;

- That we as different communities / minorities promote certain own interests but we want to collaborate on issues with national interests.

- That South Africa is a country with diverse people and communities and this diversity should be recognised and respected.

The Afrikanerbond is prepared to cooperate with efforts in promoting our country's motto namely diverse people unite. Currently only lip service are paid to this ideal. For this to succeed a renewed commitment is required from government leadership and civil society. It is also required that petty political differences are moved aside, and we need to improve the current situation by:

- developing a political atmosphere that is not rooted in fear of domination;

- acknowledging the widespread existence of racial prejudice;

- accepting the impossibility of eradicating bias by law;

- accepting that cultural and linguistic diversity are national assets which will become a liability if it is ignored, marginalised or suppressed;

- removing the acrimony of the discussion about diversity;

- unforced exposure to racial and cultural diversity and the promotion of balanced educational and developmental programs, and

- ceasing to punish the younger generation on the basis of racial considerations for the violations and attitudes of previous generations.

But even more important, there are certain values, such as trust, respect and appreciation and hope to all South Africans which were actively promoted since 1994 but which faded in the political turmoil of ideology and short-term political agendas.

The Afrikanerbond places a huge premium on the quest for the recognition of diversity. We will therefor contribute and search for solutions to the South African diversity and the promotion of common interests of all minorities and a national consensus for the benefit of South Africa and all its people. Only if there is an end to intolerance towards minorities, can we really speak of unity.

Issued by Jan Bosman, Chief Secretary, Afrikanerbond, 27 February 2017