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The mechanisation of a parallel state in South Africa

By Hadebe Hadebe

ANC’s 2018 campaign slogan “Let’s grow South Africa together”. PIC: Mdu Ndzingi

When the last Apartheid president FW de Klerk, dispelled the notion that apartheid was a crime against humanity, South Africans, instead, engaged in senseless arguments, rather than interrogating the motives behind the denialism. What De Klerk was really delivering was a very important message; that the democratic dispensation enjoyed no protection from the global community after long years of apartheid and colonial rule.

The mere fact that the United Nations (UN) had in 1966 declared “apartheid a crime against humanity” and also adopted the 1973 resolution on Suppression and Punishment of the Apartheid Crime, meant little or nothing at all in the bigger scheme of things. The whites in Western Europe and America cared less about what had happened in South Africa.

According to the De Klerk Foundation, the UN’s classification of apartheid as a crime against humanity “formed part of an agenda by the Soviet Union and the African National Congress (ANC), along with its allies to stigmatize white South Africans.” At the time, everybody missed the intricate message from De Klerk which meant that the white South Africans still have the backup from their white cousins abroad. Indeed, the tiptoeing by the Boer lobbyists AfriForum and Solidariteit Union in the international space signals that the apartheid crimes and their perpetrators have been forgiven.

This means that in less than 30 years, those who were responsible for apartheid and their siblings have managed to turn the tables around to portray themselves as victims under the black-led political dispensation in South Africa.

Among others, Sierra Leone Times reported that AfriForum is now officially registered with the UN as “a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with special advisory status.” The group confirmed this in a statement, “This status offers AfriForum various opportunities and privileges to continue its work on a much larger scale in the UN’s conference rooms.”

In August, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which coordinates the economic and social work of the United Nations and the UN family of organisations, wrote to Afriforum to inform it that it had adopted the recommendation of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations to grant it the ‘special consultative status’.

What does this ‘special consultative status’ entail? Broadly speaking, this status means that AfriForum can now “actively engage with ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat programmes, funds and agencies in a number of ways.” Its CEO Ernst Roets indicates that the lobby group will take a strong view in UN meetings on issues such as expropriation of land without compensation, farm murders, corruption, and minority rights.

The decision came just two years after Kriel, in 2018, had also said that apartheid was not a crime against humanity. The decision to grant apartheid denialists a seat in the UN seems to vindicate Roets and De Klerk.

This article aims to show that white racist groups such as AfriForum are succeeding in running a parallel state in South Africa, along the lines of apartheid. The only difference from the apartheid rule is that the new arrangement makes the actions of white supremacists legal, and these today enjoy support of the so-called international community. However, this does not come as a surprise.

Global whiteness perpetuates triumphism and apartheid resilience

A document titled ‘The Poor White Problem in South Africa: Report of the Carnegie Commission’ (1932), which was a study of poverty among white South Africans, “made recommendations about segregation that some have argued would later serve as a blueprint for apartheid.” There is a white, global solidarity which seeks to place European settler communities above natives in South Africa, and Zimbabwe too. This means, poverty is therefore reserved for the natives.

Roets and De Klerk are definitely -correct; apartheid was never crime in the eyes of Europeans and Americans. In ‘Waste of a White Skin: The Carnegie Corporation and the Racial Logic of White Vulnerability’ (2015), Tiffany Willoughby-Herard reasons that the attitudes of the white race in South Africa fall within a continuum of “Anglo-Saxon solidarity in the British colonies and dominions.”

Thus, global whiteness perpetuates triumphism and uncaring attitudes in places such as South Africa. Global whiteness also “normalize[d] the legal practice of white immigration to places where white skin counted for access to legally protected affirmative action for whites.” Whites in South Africa are products of the global white nationalism, which protects rampant Afrikaner nationalism at all times

South Africa is “a white man’s country”

This is not only a huge milestone for AfriForum, but it goes on to show that the social experimentation in post-apartheid South Africa has not stopped. The end of apartheid was not so much about ending internal slavery and oppression of Africans, but it was about testing how far the post-WWII global could go.

Starting with a neoliberal constitution which was less interested about social redress and to restore dignity of the Africans who had been under a heavy boot of Europeans for over four centuries, the writing was on the wall that the ‘international community’ did not care about the plight of the black majority in South Africa.

Former Zimbabwean ambassador to the US, Dr. Machivenyika Mapuranga once commented that South Africa together with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe were originally identified as places for white settlement overseas. Mapuranga adds that these territories are/ were referred to as “white man’s country”. Colonialists such as Cecil John Rhodes to Lord Salisbury were adamant in their belief that these countries were for the British.

In ‘The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden’ (1981), American historian Carroll Quigley suggests that Rhodes, for example, even drafted wills where he “left his fortune to form a secret society, which was to devote itself to the preservation and expansion of the British Empire.” So much was done to consolidate British power in the former colonies.

The policy of ‘whitening’ these selected territories was predicated on two important pillars. First, the British settlers who went to these countries were supposed to eventually outnumber the Africans. The aim was to have whites as large majorities in these countries. Indeed, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are now wholly under the control of people of European extraction.

Mapuranga argues that this policy was well on its way to success in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. The ratio between the natives and Europeans drastically changed over the years in favour of the settler communities. For example, the ratio in South Africa is presently around 1:10 as opposed to 1:19,000 about three centuries ago. In Zimbabwe, the ratio was 1:17,000 in 1894, and this figure dropped to about 1:13.

Second, the second pillar had to do with the land alienation; and this entailed forced removal of Africans from their lands to the native reserves. The Natives Land Act of 1913, for example, resulted in an unfair allocation of land where Africans settled in as little as 13% of the country’s surface. These were later granted self-rule as homelands, which controlled largely non-arable lands.

In the long run, the Africans in South Africa were going to depend on food produced in white owned farms. Today, the white farmers boast that they feed Africans since they own the means of production and agriculture.

Zimbabwe had similar arrangement of whites owning most land, and Africans residing in reserves. The independence in 1980 unfortunately did not alter land ownership and distribution after Britain insisted on the compensation of white land owners. In South Africa, this policy is called the ‘willing seller, willing buyer’ programme.

Nonetheless, Zimbabwe has carried a heavy burden of economic sanctions after the government of former president Robert Mugabe disrupted white dominance in the southern African country. Similarly, the call for land expropriation without compensation in South Africa is vehemently opposed, not just from within the country but also from outside.

Natives working the land in South Africa. PIC: Mdu Ndzingi

The recently announced amount of USD3.5 billion to compensate white farmers should be understood in this vein: Harare will not get anywhere in its fight to have the economic sanctions lifted unless it reverses its land reform programme which adversely affected British descendants in Zimbabwe.

The 1980 independence of Zimbabwe was understood to mean that Africans were now fully in charge of the territory that was under the private ownership of Cecil John Rhodes, in the same way Belgium’s King Leopold treated Congo. The Africans were given their independence laced in a deadly Lancaster Agreement which sought to ensure that the white race continued to control the economy, and land.

The situation for South Africa is extremely complex because the country has the largest European settlement more than any other country in Africa. Besides Zimbabwe, other countries that had many Europeans were Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, and Algeria. In terms of the latter, the French created problems with their aggression which resulted in atrocities and chaos. When it comes to South Africa, caution was exercised to prevent a full-scale war between the European settler community and Africans.

But interventions such as the “peaceful settlement” at the end of apartheid ensured that whites did not lose their ill-gained possessions, as a form of compensation to Africans who were dispossessed and oppressed for many centuries. The current attitudes of the white race can be linked to this victory over the politically free but poor or heavily marginalized African majority.

Colonial South Africa and the ‘world community’

Former president Thabo Mbeki was correct in characterising South Africa as one nation of economies. The broader understanding of the likes of AfriForum is that they would like to preserve the present status at all costs by pretending to be victims in a system that wholly serves the white race. The fact that colonial South Africa which, by the way, still exists, enjoys a special status in the global hierarchy of race, the recognition of AfriForum at the UN does not come as a huge surprise.

Many people are aware that Jan Smuts was present when the League of Nations was formed in 1918 but they lack understanding of the circumstances that made his contribution significant. Smuts was the president of the recently created white state in Africa in line with Cecil John Rhodes’ idealism and quest to entrench white race dominance in British colonies.

Quigley mentions that Rhodes was as interested in championing British interests as he was interested in framing the global order that was to be dominated by the Anglo-Saxons. Around 1891, Rhodes and Smuts were part of a secret society that also included the likes of Lord Milner, Lord Selborne, Sir Patrick Duncan, Lord Lothian, and Lord Brand. This grouping, Quigley argues, became “one of the most important forces in the formulation and execution of British imperial and foreign policy.”

Some of this group’s achievements include fermenting the Boer War of 1899-1902, creation of Rhodes scholarship as well as the established Union of South Africa in 1906-1910. It also publicized the idea of and the name ‘British Commonwealth of Nations’, which had something to with the creation of the League of Nations in 1918.

Thus, the recognition of AfriForum in the UN mirrors a continuation of the Rhodes legacy of protection and promoting Anglo-Saxon interests, especially in the ‘white man’s country’ of South Africa. AfriForum is now placed at a unique position not just to undermine South Africa’s sovereignty but to also supervise government decisions at international level.

It is now likely that Pretoria will be summoned by different UN bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) at the OHCR and the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) at the International Labour Organization (ILO). Such things as expropriation of land without compensation and minority rights (read affirmative action) will be used to frustrate change in South Africa.

Furthermore, it is likely that AfriForum will engage in activities that deliberately undermine state authority within South Africa as well. The ‘whitening’ of the economy in places like Pretoria will escalate, and no state intervention will stop the ongoing white job reservations. Generally speaking, companies in Pretoria hire whites in better paying positions and place blacks at the bottom.

They also insist that applicants for various jobs should speak Afrikaans as a way of justifying preference for whites. There is actually nothing to applaud in Solidariteit’s Afrikaans-only university in Centurion. At worst, the present economic environment will impact Africans more than the Anglo-Saxons.

AfriForum and related groupings lead a very powerful ‘state within a state’ in South Africa, which enjoys the backing of even more powerful groups in the international system.

Siya yi banga le economy!

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