AfriForum’s latest public antics of going to court to demand the right to wave the old Apartheid flag are divisive and provocative. This needs to be rejected by all properly adjusted persons who remain invested in the idea of a united and peaceful South Africa.
The Apartheid flag is a symbol of black exploitation and subordination of black people to white supremacy. The Federation supports the Constitution and its provisions for the freedom of speech and political association. There is nothing wrong in a robust constitutional democracy for individuals to hold offensive and unusual views.
Apartheid exploited black people and exploited them for white people’s economic benefit, it is divisive and offensive to want to thrust this symbol of oppression in the face of black victims and the descendants of victims of Apartheid.
All rights have limits and they come with responsibilities. This includes prohibitions and criminal sanctions, when it comes to inciting violence and hate speech. Apartheid is nothing to be trivialized.
Millions of people were killed, forcibly removed, property expropriated, banished, and condemned to lives of poverty and absolute misery because of the colour of their skin.
It took great leadership, maturity, and sensitivity by leaders across the political spectrum, and ordinary citizens to move South Africa from an international outcast,and a criminal state to a model constitutional democracy.
Germany does not allow the display of Nazi flags and the US banned the Confederate flags because they understood that they are offensive to the victims of Holocaust and Slavery. South Africa cannot be the exception and tolerate those who seek to celebrate Apartheid, which was condemned by the United Nations as a crime against humanity.
Afriforum can learn a lesson from one of the American slaveholders Robert E Lee, who fought to defend slavery but who refused after the American Civil War to attend a meeting of Union and Confederate officers to mark the placing of a memorial honouring those who took part in the battle.
He wrote in a letter declining the invitation; “I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered”. Even rabid racists who championed slavery knew when to stop because people can only take so much provocation from racists.
The Federation urges Parliament to proceed with the passage of the Prevention of Hate Speech and Hate Crimes Bill to set clear boundaries on what is and is not acceptable in a constitutional democracy.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794