The civil rights organisation AfriForum accuses the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) of currently playing a polarising role, being dishonest and of seriously harming the image of former President Nelson Mandela as reconciler. AfriForum appeals to the NMF to give up their search for vengeance and to rather work together with AfriForum in establishing a society of mutual recognition and respect between communities.
According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, the NMF’s allegation is untrue that they had tried to work with AfriForum and that AfriForum had refused. “The opposite is true, in fact. AfriForum’s legal team wrote a letter to the NMF’s legal team on 4 September 2018, requesting a discussion to ensure that an ‘amicable outcome as opposed to one that is a divisive one’ is reached. AfriForum also asked for cooperation to prevent the dispute from deteriorating, ‘which could further polarise our country’s diverse communities – something that we should work together to avoid’. I was shocked when the NMF refused our hand of friendship and their legal team replied: ‘[O]ur client has instructed us to reject your client’s request’,” Kriel says.
Kriel says it is tragic that the NMF is willing to spread blatant lies – which directly leads to polarisation and division in the country – by falsely pretending that an Afrikaans organisation like AfriForum is apparently not committed to dialogue.
Referring to the NMF’s indication that it wants to act against Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action, because of his “contempt of court”, Kriel says that this is also an indication that the NMF’s longing for banning and censorship is so great that they even want to prosecute people like Roets, who acted within the framework of the court’s guidelines.
“The court said that the flag may be used for journalistic and academic purposes. The NMF now wants to apply this ban even harsher through their witch-hunt on Roets, a doctoral student of law, because he dared to ask an academic legal question of whether he had broken the law, by asking this question together with an image of the old flag,” Kriel adds.
According to Kriel, the NMF’s witch-hunt is indeed the type of behaviour against which AfriForum warned when, in the interest of freedom of speech, it decided to oppose the banning and censoring of symbols. Kriel also points out that AfriForum warned that the NMF’s action would give a new life and even cult status to a flag that had fallen into disuse by wanting to ban it. “Our society now reaps the bitter fruits of the NMF’s polarising actions,” Kriel says.