Home Opinion and Features ANC invokes spirit of Verwoerd in Orania

ANC invokes spirit of Verwoerd in Orania


OPINION: The affirmation of Orania by the ANC proves that the so-called “Government of National Unity” is nothing other than an unholy pact to protect white minority interests and undermine the transformation objectives of the democratic government of South Africa, writes Sihle Lonzi, the president of the EFF Student Command.

A signpost in Orania, Northern Cape. File picture: Boxer Ngwenya, Independent Newspapers

By Sihle Lonzi

IN ONE of the speeches he gave as the Minister of Native Affairs (1950), apartheid architect Hendrik F Verwoerd defended the system as a necessary policy which sought to resolve what he believed were irreconcilable needs and aspirations which separated the Bantu (black) people from the European (white) people in South Africa.

He insisted that the solution to this was for both groups to “adopt a development divorced from each other”. In other words, it was the consensus of the racist Afrikaner nationalists that South Africa must be segregated along racial lines, and these races must live and develop separately.

Thirty years after the fall of apartheid, the African National Congress (ANC) is legitimising and affirming that which it fought against. This was revealed in an official statement of the ANC in the Northern Cape which confirmed the remarks of the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader, Pieter Groenewald, that the ANC is willing and open to recognise the status of Orania as an exclusively white Afrikaner community as part of the conditions for its involvement in the proposed government of national unity (GNU).

Yet again, the ANC has shamelessly exposed its devotion to selling out the people of South Africa and reversing the political gains it frequently boasts about. The affirmation of Orania by the ANC proves that the so-called “Government of National Unity” is nothing other than an unholy pact to protect white minority interests and undermine the transformation objectives of the democratic government of South Africa.

The request made by the FF+ to have an exclusive enclave for white Afrikaner-speaking people demonstrates its unwillingness to unite with the broader and non-white community of South Africa. How can it be called “national unity” when the political parties involved want to create exclusive towns and communities which further exacerbate the racial divisions and tensions of South Africa?

Orania is the absolute embodiment of Hendrik Verwoerd’s apartheid ideology of separate development, racial segregation, and white supremacy. The origins of Orania as an idea can be traced to the establishment of the South African Bureau for Racial Affairs (Sabra) in 1948, which was a project of Afrikaner nationalists who sought to provide academic and intellectual justification for apartheid and many other racist policies of the National Party.

The Sabra was at the centre of the political contestation between the “Verkramptes”, who were the conservative Afrikaner nationalists who opposed any reforms which sought to lessen the segregation of races in South Africa, and the “Verligtes” who were the Afrikaners who supported liberal reforms in the racial policy. Verwoerd was among the leading conservative Afrikaners who fought for the totality and purity of apartheid, and the isolation of liberal members of the Sabra who did not believe in the total segregation of white and non-white communities in South Africa.

The leading Afrikaner nationalists, who had now become very influential in government policy and dominated the political discourse and social narratives in white communities, devoted themselves in the pursuit of a purely white state, to the exclusion of the black and African people.

When it became evident in the late 1970s that the political hegemony of apartheid and the dominance of the white minority population over the majority black and African population in South Africa was diminishing, the racist research efforts of the Sabra recommended the establishment of a “Volkstaat” or “Boerestaat” which is an exclusively white homeland and/or community for Afrikaners living in South Africa but under their own rule, and separated from the rest of South Africa which would be governed by the black and African majority.

Orania, the town, was officially established in the Northern Cape (1991) by the late Carel Boshoff who was also Verwoerd’s son-in-law. This happened less than a year after the release of Nelson Mandela (1990) with the anticipation that white-minority rule was coming to an end in South Africa.

In response to this democratic and non-racial future of South Africa, the racist white Afrikaner nationalists chose to segregate themselves by creating a town which is exclusively white. Orania not only represents the refusal of white people to coexist with black people, but it is also a refusal of white people to be led and/or governed by black people. Orania represents a racist vote of no confidence in black and African leadership.

In Orania, symbols of the brutal apartheid government which tormented, tortured, and killed our people are embraced. The old and racist apartheid flag still flies high. The statues and sculptures of the likes of Paul Kruger, DF Malan, JG Strijdom, HF Verwoerd and many other leaders and figures who committed black genocide against the people of South Africa are honoured and memorialised as heroes of Orania.

The people of Orania, like many racist white South Africans, see nothing wrong with apartheid. They are no different from the racist leader of the DA, Helen Zille, who tweeted in defence of colonialism. These are the people that the ANC has chosen to form a grand coalition with to govern South Africa.

It is important to note that although we contemporarily refer to “Orania” as a town in the Northern Cape province, when it was first conceptualised by the racist Afrikaner nationalists, it was an idea which was not limited to any geographic location and/or town in South Africa, but rather a racist philosophy to maintain and sustain the segregation of white and non-white communities in South Africa. We see this through the emergence of many gated complexes which continue to discriminate against South Africans who are not white by limiting access to purchasing land, occupying homes, and joining the respective clubs, societies, and schools.

Therefore, this great betrayal and sell-out position of the ANC has far-reaching consequences beyond the borders of the Northern Cape province. It affirms and legitimises the racism of white people in South Africa. It says to white people in South Africa that it is okay for them to exclude black people from their communities, schools, restaurants, recreational facilities, beaches, social clubs, sporting codes, and places of work.

To affirm the idea and existence of “Orania” as conceptualised and imagined by the sons of HF Verwoerd, is a vote for the continuation of white racism and regressive Afrikaner nationalism in South Africa. The ANC’s grand coalition with racist white minority political parties like the DA and the FF+ will take the people of South Africa back to the dark days of apartheid.

The people of South Africa must reject this nonsensical concession which bastardises Section 235 of the Constitution which protects the right to self-determination of communities which share language and culture. Racism, bigotry, and the belittling of South Africa’s gruesome history can never be likened to the embracing of one’s culture. The ANC’s desperation to hold onto power is becoming a mockery to the many black and African voters who voted for it in the recent elections.

It continues to put the interests of the racist establishment ahead of the interests of the people of South Africa. Our country is being surrendered to imperialist forces before our eyes. It is for this reason that the EFF took the decision to stand on principle, and never betray the people of South Africa for political expediency and an uncontrollable desire for positions.

The people of South Africa must reject any government which seeks to undermine the dignity of black people by recognising exclusively white Afrikaner communities which celebrate and honour the painful legacies of apartheid. We will never unite with racists who still fly the apartheid flag.

Eventually the people of South Africa will realise that the EFF was correct in its assertion that this is not a government of national unity. It is a consolidation of the racist right-wing forces to protect their economic interests and maintain the status quo, through the grand coalition between the ANC and the DA.

* Sihle Lonzi is the president of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Student Command.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the DFA.

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