AfriForum

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AfriForum
AfriForum logo.svg
Motto Laat jou stem hoor (English: Let your voice be heard)
Formation 26 March 2006
Type NGO
Headquarters Union Street, Kloofsig, Centurion, Gauteng
Membership
193,000 (December 2017)[1]
CEO[2]
Kallie Kriel
Deputy CEO
Ernst Roets
Affiliations Solidarity Movement
Website afriforum.co.za

AfriForum is an organisation[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] in South Africa linked to the Solidarity trade union.[11] It was established in 2006 to encourage the re-engagement of the Afrikaners and other minorities in the public sphere.[12] It promotes the protection of Afrikaner culture,[13] and has opposed renaming streets and affirmative action. AfriForum has attracted significant controversy because of its views, particularly about Apartheid.[14][15][16][17]

According to AfriForum CEO, Kallie Kriel, AfriForum is a civil rights initiative to mobilise civil society and specifically minority communities, in order to take part in democratic debate. Kriel further stated that AfriForum would like to achieve balance in South Africa. “True democracy needs alternative voices in order to succeed. While we aren’t a political party, we give alternative ideas and suggestions, where applicable, to the government stance.”[18] AfriForum's claim to be a civil rights organisation has been questioned in the South African media.[19][20][21][22]

The movement's youth wing is called AfriForum Youth.[23][24]

History

AfriForum was founded in 2006. AfriForum's Civil Rights Charter was officially adopted by the organization on 7 September 2006 during a discussion forum held in Pretoria.[25][non-primary source needed] Its leader, Kallie Kriel, was previously a member of the Conservative Party, and a leader of the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) youth wing, and a large number of its executive leadership were formerly associated with Freedom Front Plus.[13]

Campaigns and policies

AfriForum protest outside the Pretoria High Court

The organisation's principal focus is inter alia on the following areas: civil, safety and security, community affairs, local government, environmental affairs, education as well as preserving the language, culture and heritage in South Africa.[citation needed]

In 2009, the group contested the presence of Robert Mugabe at the inauguration of Jacob Zuma's presidency.[26] It was also involved in a bid to prevent the delivery of Alouette III Air Force helicopters to the Zimbabwean army.[27]

AfriForum has opposed fracking in the Karoo.[28] as well as poaching[29] It has also campaigned against electronic road tolling in Gauteng.[30]

AfriForum has been a vocal critic of the ANC's response to the farm attack cases, claiming that the party bears a responsibility for "remain[ing] silent" about the violence,[31] and lodging a complaint to the South African Human Rights Commission against the Police Minister for failing to do enough to protect farmers.[32]

Crime and corruption

The organisation has often criticised government for its lack of willingness to address the problem of farm murders. AfriForum is of the opinion that farm murders should be declared a priority crime, and has raised widespread local awareness and increasing international awareness of the problem by means of several campaigns, including the ‘Stop the Murders’ campaign.[33][non-primary source needed] The organisation has also campaigned to address the overall problem of crime and corruption, especially with regard to municipal employees guilty of fraud.[citation needed]

Private prosecutions

The organisation formed a private prosecutions unit, headed by well-known former state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, amid allegations that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was selective in prosecutions, and politically biased.[34] In 2017, Nel undertook to assist the victim of an alleged assault by Grace Mugabe, wife of Robert Mugabe.[35][36][37]

In 2018, AfriForum undertook a private prosecution of EFF leader Julius Malema on charges of fraud and corruption, after the NPA failed to continue prosecuting the case.[38] AfriForum had initially laid the charges against Malema in 2011.[38]

AfriForum committed to undertake a private prosecution of Duduzane Zuma, son of then-President Jacob Zuma, for culpable homicide, after a vehicle driven by Duduzane Zuma was involved in a 2014 motor vehicle crash that killed two black female minibus taxi commuters, and the National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute, despite an inquest finding that the crash was caused by Zuma's negligence.[39] Following AfriForum's move to privately prosecute Zuma, the National Prosecuting Authority decided to pursue a prosecution instead.[40]

The organisation undertook a prosecution of the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, after allegations of animal cruelty at her North West farm, where, in 2014, the NSPCA found "scores" of animals starving to death from apparent neglect, and the NPA failed to prosecute her.[41][42][43]

Education, language and culture

Two of the core objectives of AfriForum Youth have been the promotion of multilingualism[44] and mother tongue education in South Africa, and for youth in the country to be exempted from affirmative action.[45][non-primary source needed]

AfriForum has strongly opposed the proposed renaming of South Africa's capital from Pretoria to Tshwane, as well as street renaming in Pretoria.[46][47]

A campaign against racial quotas in higher education saw AfriForum Youth members paint themselves black to protest the alleged discrimination against 30 learners who were turned away from the University of Pretoria.[48] Another campaign protesting racial quotas involved charging students of different races different prices for a cup of coffee, with white students paying R5 a cup, coloured and Indians R3, and blacks R1.[49]

In 2014 AfriForum attempted to suppress a report into a Nazi-style initiation ceremony at the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University, claiming that the report discriminated against Afrikaners.[50]

Land

The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) stated that land is a contentious issue in South Africa, and that the ruling ANC party is blaming whites for still owning 80% of the total land surface. In fact, the Government’s own land-ownership documentation shows that by the start of 2011 roughly 50% of all land was in the hands of Government and black communities.[original research?]

As of March 2011, 31 million hectares or 25% of the 122 million hectares surface area of South Africa were in the hands of the State. The remaining 91 million hectares or 75% of the surface area was privately owned. The bulk of white-owned land is probably in the hands of commercial farmers, South Africa's food producers. Their numbers are dwindling rapidly. There are only an estimated 30 000 to 40 000 of these farmers left, down from 60 000 fifteen years ago.[51]

South African President, Jacob Zuma has called for a review of the land policy, echoing the contents of the Green Paper on Land Reform, but AfriForum claims that the president’s statement regarding the review of willing buyer, willing seller principle as stated in Section 25 of the South African Constitution, as a means to speed up the land restitution process was misplaced.[52] AfriForum has in the past joined the South African Progressive Civic Organisation (Sapco), a Khoisan community, in a protest over the land rights of the indigenous group, with both minority groups feeling they have no representation in the current government.[53]

During 2012, AfriForum's legal team represented the legitimate owners of land in the black community of Wallmansthal, North of Pretoria, in the North Gauteng High Court to take back their land from illegal squatters. The court ruled in favour of AfriForum. The squatters, who occupied the land between December 2011 and February 2012, were removed from the land.[54]

Shoot the Boer case and hate speech

AfriForum Youth opened a civil case against former ANC Youth League President (ANCYL), Julius Malema, in the Equality Court after his repeated singing of the words “dubul’ ibhunu”, which translate as “shoot the boer”, at a number of ANC Youth League gatherings.[55] Judge Colin Lamont ruled in the South Gauteng High Court that the song constituted hate speech and undermined the dignity of Afrikaners, and was discriminatory and harmful.[56][57] In 2012, AfriForum and the ANC reached a settlement before the appeal case was due to be argued in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.[58]

AfriForum has also brought charges of hate speech against individuals, among others Ronald Lamola, the then acting president of the ANC Youth League following a complaint regarding Lamola's remarks that the ANCYL could no longer guarantee the safety of the Van der Merwes and Van Tonders (traditional white Afrikaans family names) if white South Africans refused to voluntarily give up their land and mineral rights.[59] In February 2013 AfriForum Youth brought a complaint of hate speech against Jason Mfusi, the leader of SASCO (The South African Students Congress) of the North-West University for his remark: "My grandfather says 'n goeie boer is 'n dooie boer", translated as “My grandfather says a good farmer is a dead farmer” which he posted on the social network, Facebook. The youth organisation reached an agreement with the SASCO leader by means of a mediation process, as requested by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of the University. In terms of the agreement, Mfusi had to issue a written apology to the farming community.[60]

AfriForum adopted a similar stance towards the word Kaffir, stating that its use is a "gross human rights violation".[61]

Minority rights

AfriForum regularly seeks international platforms to speak to the international community regarding the minority rights situation in South Africa. AfriForum has on several occasions attended the United Nations' Human Rights Council's Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva, Switzerland regarding minority rights in South Africa. AfriForum has also been a delegate to a conference of the United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Council regarding the prevention of the incitement of hatred on the grounds of nationality, race or religion.[citation needed]

AfriForum has on numerous occasions criticised the ruling ANC about the denial of minority rights in the country.[citation needed] However, City Press journalist Adriaan Basson (now editor of the Afrikaans daily newspaper, Beeld) has accused the organisation of overreacting to the situation regarding minority rights in South Africa. Basson has mentioned in an open letter to AfriForum CEO, Kallie Kriel, that the premise of AfriForum’s campaigns is one of victimhood.[62]

International lobbying

Afriforum claimed credit for taking an Australian journalist on a tour of South Africa, and for the "dozens" of articles that subsequently appeared in the Australian media[63][64] that included claims that white South Africans were "trapped like frogs in boiling water"[65][66] and stating that white farmers were being “persecuted” because of their race.[67][65][66] AfriForum also undertook a tour of the United States that included meetings with John Bolton, staffers for Senator Ted Cruz, and an interview on Fox News[14]

Community affairs

Local government

This department addresses municipal service delivery problems in over 125 towns and cities across South Africa.[citation needed]

In order to achieve this goal, AfriForum attempts to establish partnerships with municipalities. The organisation allegedly submits wish lists to municipalities, and municipalities convert it into action plans to address issues. AfriForum says if municipalities do not cooperate in improving service delivery to residents, the organisation approaches courts to order municipalities to enforce service delivery.[68][non-primary source needed]

An example of intervention by AfriForum in this regard, was the urgent order awarded to the organisation against the Vhembe District Municipality by the High Court in Pretoria, forcing the municipality to supply water to Makhado residents.[69] In a similar case in 2013, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted AfriForum an order stopping the Madibeng Municipality from cutting electricity supply to Hartbeespoort.[citation needed]

In 2010 a legal team for AfriForum representing farmers in Zimbabwe won a court bid to sue Zimbabwe's government over its “cruel” and “vengeful” expropriation of South African-owned farms. In 2008 the regional court SADC tribunal ruled that Zimbabwe's land reform was illegal and racist, and that those who had suffered discrimination by having their farms expropriated had the right to compensation.[70]

AfriForum's local government interventions have been described positively, even by its critics.[10]

Community safety

AfriForum’s Community Safety Department participates in endeavours which promote the safety of citizens within communities. A large emphasis is placed on assisting communities and neighbourhoods to establish safety structures. Some of these structures include neighbourhood watches, farm watches, radio networks and community forums.[71][non-primary source needed]

In 2011 AfriForum commissioned Professor Rudolph Zinn of UNISA to conduct research into successful community safety structures in South Africa. The research has led to the compilation of a community safety handbook that has been implemented in all AfriForum branches countrywide. The department also focuses on the role of government and in particular that of law enforcement agencies, and acts as a pressure group so that citizens get the best safety and security possible.[72][non-primary source needed]

Controversies

In 2015 AfriForum asserted that allegations of racism[clarification needed] against Curro Foundation School are themselves racist. In a statement by the organisation's chair it was said "To portray an Afrikaans class being transported as class group falsely as racial segregation, is beyond absurd". An investigation into the matter came to the conclusion that the class was in fact segregated racially as was alleged because white parents had pressured the school.[73]

In 2016 eight students affiliated with AfriForum youth wing were suspended from Stellenbosch University Student Representative Council (SRC) elections after allegations of campaign irregularities. Posters that they produced and hanged around the campus were removed after they were deemed controversial and harmful to other students.[74]

A group of AfriForum protestors were found by judge AJ Donen to have engaged in "assault, sexual violence, sexual aggression and intimidation" at Stellenbosch University,[10] and the organisation initiated a boycott of Afrikaans newspapers that reported on Potchefstroom students that gave the Nazi salute during their initiation.[10]

In 2016 AfriForum supporters protested in Pretoria together with the political party Freedom Front Plus's members because Steve Hofmeyr's scheduled event at Café Dudok, a restaurant in the Netherlands, was cancelled when the organisers were alerted of his alleged white supremacy by a left-wing group in Netherlands.[75]

In May 2018, following criticism of Afriforum by a North-West University professor, Elmien du Plessis,[76] Afriforum's deputy CEO, Ernst Roets, posted a YouTube video where he quoted Victor Klemperer, stating that "if the tables were turned after the Holocaust he "would have all the intellectuals strung up, and the professors three feet higher than the rest; they would be left hanging from the lamp posts for as long as was compatible with hygiene."[77] Following the video posting, du Plessis and her family received threats of violence.[78][79][80] A petition condemning the threats against academics was subsequently circulated.[81]

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel attracted widespread controversy in May 2018 when he denied that Apartheid was a crime against humanity,[82][83][84][85][86][16][15][87] and its deputy leader Ernst Roets has described Apartheid as a "wooly concept".[11] The organisation had previously described Apartheid as a "so-called historical injustice".[88][10][21][89]

Criticism

The organisation has been criticized, most notability by the ruling ANC as well as by media outlets such as City Press, including the paper’s editor Ferial Haffajee[90] and academics such as University of Cape Town Professor Pierre de Vos.[91] Survivalist groups such as the Kommandokorps have also criticised the organisation, alleging that the group is too moderate in their approach to problems facing South Africa.[92]

A Chapter 9 institution, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, launched an attack on AfriForum's campaign for the protection of Afrikaans medium schools in a press release.[93] It was presumed by AfriForum that the Commission deliberately acted in contravention of its mandate as set out in Section 185 of the Constitution, which led AfriForum to suspect that the Commission was functioning as an extension of the ruling party.[citation needed]

The African National Congress Youth League has stated that AfriForum is "the defender of white privilege"[94] while commentator and journalist Max du Preez has described AfriForum's position as "reactionary identity politics", and claimed that Afrikaners who criticised AfriForum are "aggressively demonised, insulted, belittled and even threatened".[95]

Vice Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand Adam Habib condemned AfriForum in May 2018 and said in an interview that the AfriForum was building ties with "proto-fascist groups" including the French National Front, the Italian Five Star Movement and Germany's AFD.[87]

References

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External links

  • Official website (in Afrikaans) (in English)
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