Article for “This Day” October 2003


What is happening in Afrikaner politics at the moment?

Let me rephrase the question: What do Afrikaners talk about while standing around the braai-fire? There where they are alone, and need not be politically correct?

The majority of Afrikaners voted for the DA, hoping that this will solve their problems. They are now disillusioned and talk about bigger Afrikaner unity because they fear they are being targeted as a group.

They say they feel like strangers in South Africa – being pushed out, powerless with no future. Each tells his own story of injustice and unfairness within the work place, just because he is an Afrikaner – of his frustration with civil servants’ inefficiency and of a family member or friend that has emigrated. Their children are unable to find jobs and no longer qualify for any bursaries. Even the industrialist Johan Rupert, recently expressed his concern regarding some of these questions.

You can try to argue with these Afrikaners; you can quote statistics and compare Afrikaner living standards to those of others in South Africa or talk about the privileges of the past. Hermann Hesse said: “There is no reality except the one within us. In the end people react and make decisions on their perceptions of the reality around them”.                           

The Russian writer Solzhenitshen wrote on perceptions and war: “You do not fight me on what I am, but on what you think I am”.

To dismiss all of these complaints as only perceptions, will be a mistake. Farm attacks, pressure on Afrikaans schools, pressure on Afrikaans Universities, the turning down of most Afrikaans community radio station licences, etc. are real, and not perceptions.

In South Africa approximately 60 people are murdered daily. In Sweden 60 people are murdered annually. The official South African statistic for murder is 48 people murdered out of every 100 000. In the USA it is 6 out of 100 000 and in Europe 2 out of 100 000. The figure for South African farmers however is 273 murders out of a 100 000. On the farmers’ request that government must do something to protect them, the government reacted by disbanding the commando system. The message they received was that the ANC disbands their protective system without a clear alternative in place. All these actions convince more and more Afrikaners that they are being targeted, that it will become worse in future and that they must develop bigger political unity and new political strategies against this onslaught.

What political strategies are Afrikaners considering at the moment? In 1948 the Afrikaners used their numbers in order to gain power through a General Election. In 1961 Afrikaners once again used their numbers in a referendum to obtain a Republic. Afrikaners who became stuck in this Westminster constituency-way of thinking, still believe that they can solve their present problems by means of numbers. For that reason they joined the DA and become exited about winning elections by gathering large amounts of black votes to achieve this. Any analyses of democracy in Africa, or of the voting patterns in South Africa shows how unrealistic and naïve this approach is. At the moment the DA, as the biggest opposition party, only have 12% in the Parliament opposed to the ANC’s 70%. These figures alone are already proof that we do not have a normal democracy where parties follow each other in forming governments as in Europe. This strategy will not work.

The Freedom Front Plus has made a study of proportional voting systems in the world and based its strategy upon those systems. In a proportional system there is enough room for political parties intending to serve specific interests in society. The Green parties in Europe, with only about 7% support, position themselves according to their interests. They focus on environmental affairs. They see it as their task to keep this on the political agenda. In this way they adhere to the needs of a specific niche-market. These parties do not try to obtain the majority at the next General Elections. Although they are small, these parties indeed achieve a lot with effective lobbying and clever alliances.

The Freedom Front Plus sees itself as such a political party with focussed interests. In order to serve these interests successfully, the party must try to obtain the largest amount of votes from its niche-market. The Conservative Party obtained 800 000 votes when it was at its peak. In 1994 the leaders of the CP instructed their supporters not to vote. Many of these voters therefore did not participate in any elections during the past 10 years. The FF+ now enables many of these voters to participate in the elections for the first time since 1994. It will also move many apathetic voters to go and vote. Criticism coming from apathetic voters was that it would be senseless to vote while there are 15 opposition parties in Parliament opposing the single power block of the ANC. These voters indicated that they would support any effort to stop proliferation of opposition parties.

Of course such a decision has risks. Because the leadership and style of the new Freedom Front Plus will be the same as that which the Freedom Front had, I am convinced that the coming elections will show that the Freedom Front has gained much by taking this decision.