Jun 21, 2008

Afrikaners: Dr Mulder gives speech to Parliament

Sample ImageIn the wake of the recent xenophobic violence that has rocked South Africa, Dr Pieter Mulder, leader of the FF Plus political party, gave a timely reminder of the importance of facing up to realities in South Africa and not generalizing on the basis of race.

Below is Dr Mulder’s speech. In his reply, President Thabo Mbeki referred to Dr Mulder and agreed that generalizations are always a mistake:

As the Limpopo conference had radically changed the position of President Mbeki, the Xenophobia attacks had radically changed South Africa. Photo’s of foreigners being burnt, had shattered the dream of a South Africa showing the world how people should live in harmony with each other. Who would, a year ago, have predicted that South African Embassy’s in Africa and the Bafana Bafana soccer team would need extra security?

The government was warned timeously.

In the African Peer Review Report (p. 286) the government was seriously warned more than a year ago about Xenophobia and racism in South Africa. Par. 956: “Xenophobia against other Africans is currently on the rise and should be nipped in the bud.”

Why did the government do nothing? Because they started believing their own propaganda and myths. If the gap between a myth and reality becomes too big, unrealistic decisions are made.

What are these ANC myths?

A first myth is that tribalism and ethnicity is the result of colonialism and apartheid and will in time disappear. The Honourable Buthulezi wrote: “Our ethnicity was not invented by apartheid, only used by it. I did not create Zuluness. Zuluness created me and will last long after I am gone... I never had difficulties in recognising myself as entirely Zulu, entirely South African and entirely a citizen of the world. These are different levels of expression, not contradictions...” (16/4/2006 Sunday Times)

A second myth is the belief that black-on-black violence is not possible.

A third myth is that racism is the preserve of whites. Black people can not be racist.

The Xenophobia attacks in South Africa and events in recent times in Africa had proven all these myths to be wrong.

The sad truth is that racism and Xenophobia are universal phenomena. It is found all over the globe and in all societies. Its extent and intensity varies with time and circumstances.

I remember how Nigeria in 1985 ordered the expulsion of 700 000 illegal African immigrants. We saw the recent conflict in Kenya and Rwanda and the anti-white black racism in Zimbabwe.

Last year in this debate I warned against racism and mentioned examples of Xenophobia in Germany and Australia.

What should we do? Drop these myths and start treating the realities of diversity in South Africa honestly. Then diversity is an asset and not a threat.

The Bible says: (Deuteronomy 10:19 New King James Version) “... love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

But then you must be realistic as well. To accommodate a few thousand ANC exiles in Africa during the struggle years is something totally different than to allow 5 million foreigners to compete with poor South Africans for scarce resources and to think that it will not create conflict.

As long as articles are written, as recently in the City Press, that black people cannot be racist but only white people can be, then we are not realistic. What we saw in May was blatant black racism and Xenophobia. White racism is condemned by the FF Plus. But we also condemn black racism.

Mr. Mandela addressed this Parliament on 10 May 2004 and said that a guiding principle for him in his life has been that there are good men and women to be found in all groups and from all sectors of society, and that in an open and free society, those South Africans will come together to jointly and co-operatively realise the common good.

In the eighties two Comrade athletes, Manie Saayman and Louis Harmse, saw the talent of Samuel Tshabalala as he participated barefoot in a Sasolburg Marathon. They buy him shoes, get him work and start, without any compensation, training him for the Comrades Marathon. In 1989 Tshabalala wins the Comrades. He however does not pitch at the prize-giving ceremony because Saayman, who had also participated, suffered kidney failure and he had preferred to go to hospital with his trainer in the ambulance. Today they are still friends and hope to again participate together in the Comrades this year. 

Why am I telling this story? Because I, like Mr. Mandela, believe that in all groups in South Africa and the world there are good and bad people. There are good Afrikaners and bad Afrikaners. There are good Xhosas and bad Xhosas. The big problem is generalisation. As long as there are white people who say that all black people are bad, we are not at all making progress. But as long as there are black people who say that all white people are bad and whites do not belong in Africa, we are also not making any progress at all. If the good people from the different groups can work together, we can resolve our problems. If we can learn this alone from the recent events, we are making progress to create a place in the sun for everyone, and together start resolving Africa’s problems.