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Critique on AfriForum based on prejudice and stereotyping

March 29, 2018 deur Natasha Venter

AfriForum is in favour of a robust public debate and respects the right of those who express critique against AfriForum and me. It is, however, a pity that some commentators such as Prince Mashele in his article “Malema and Kriel thrive on racial hatred” (Sowetan, 26 March 2018) express critique against AfriForum and me that is not based on facts, but rather on prejudices and stereotypes regarding Afrikaners.

In the midst of Julius Malema’s racist tirades to the extreme leftists of the political spectrum, commentators such as Mashele attempt to position themselves in the centre by nostalgically searching for an extreme rightist grouping. After the welcomed disappearance of organisations such as the AWB, attempts are now being made to falsely project onto a balanced organisation such as AfriForum the distorted stereotypes of Afrikaners that was created by that far-right organisation through their idiotic actions.

The reason why Mashele, in his attempt to sketch AfriForum and me as “racist”, never once cites a single racist statement or action from AfriForum to prove the so-called racism, is because such examples do not exist. It will serve Mashele well to study AfriForum’s civil rights charter and the projects on AfriForum’s website. There he will see that the promotion of mutual recognition and respect between communities forms a key element of AfriForum’s policy and that most of AfriForum’s projects are to the benefit of everyone in the country.

Mashele purposely neglects to mention facts such as that AfriForum is currently – on behalf of a group of black learners and parents in the Nkandla district – locked in a court battle against the state to ensure that a school is built for these learners. Also, not one word about the fact that AfriForum assisted the black Wallmansthal Communal Property Association in court to get their land back after it was occupied by informal settlers. The 16 000 potholes in roads that AfriForum last year repaired by themselves, the water tests done in 156 towns to ensure water safety, the safety actions attempting to include all role players and the countless other projects that AfriForum tackles on local government level, is to the benefit of ALL in the towns and cities where it takes place. Unfortunately for Mashele, these actions do not fit in with the stereotype he is trying to create of AfriForum.

Regarding the battle against racism, AfriForum is also one of the few organisations who does not hesitate to condemn white as well as black racism. This organisation will fight the anti-white racism of Julius Malema and other politicians, but also does the same to condemn incidents of white racism. Countless examples exist of AfriForum’s balanced actions in this regard.

As it befits a democratic debate, I respect Mashele’s point of view that he does not support AfriForum’s concern over expropriation without compensation. For Mashele to portray AfriForum’s concern as an attempt to awaken racial fear, is far from the truth. In Zimbabwe, expropriation without compensation destroyed the economy of that country to the detriment of all. With an unemployment rate of 90% it is black people in Zimbabwe who suffer most due to the disrespect of property rights. A campaign against expropriation without compensation is therefore not merely about white fears, but an earnest attempt to ward off a nightmare for everyone in the country.

With 206 000 active members, AfriForum is currently the largest civil rights organisation in Africa and can therefore not be wished away by Mashele. Mashele can however relax. AfriForum and I are committed to help build a better society that is based on the above-mentioned mutual recognition and respect between communities. Naturally, everyone will not always agree with what AfriForum does. However, my appeal is that those who differ from AfriForum would rather direct their critique toward what AfriForum says and does, and not do so based on a false stereotype of who AfriForum is.