Mhambi has been redeployed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Afro-pessimism is spiralling out of control

In today's Business day Prof Anthony Butler of UCT's Public policy department sets forth that simultaneous events have conspired to seriously dent confidence in South Africa, both internally and externally. These dents were possible in the context of widespread perceptions of crime, corruption and problems in the health service.

Apparently the Financial Times have talked of a “loss of faith” and the Wall Street Journal has been lamenting a “Dark South Africa”.

He sees the emigration accelerating and investment falling, and that this will feed a vicious circle that will make skills even dearer and harder to find, this in turn will exacerbate the problems of corruption, service delivery, crime, public health and especially Aids.

He also warns of white fears becoming irrational bleak.

Such multifaceted uncertainty about the future can open the door to a more profound, irrational terror. Some whites, in particular, when they reflect on their deepest fears, discover a submerged expectation that poverty and pent-up frustration must eventually result in a vast social explosion.

Others fuel their fears with a vague and unarticulated sense that the postcolonial African state must always fail. In minds where such doubts lurk, there is always fertile ground for apocalyptic visions to grow. Practical challenges become interlinked in a vicious cycle of crime, skills loss, moral breakdown, AIDS, political instability, panic, and emigration.

Sphere: Related Content


JVR said...


Pessimism about Africa is well-founded. Here is the bleak truth: No Afrikaner will ever again live safely in South Africa. Just as no white will ever again live safely in Zimbabwe, or Mozambique, or Zambia or Kenya, or... All the white communisties there were destroyed and rooted out. The last such community to go was in the Ivory Coast. Did you notice? You may be writing letters to Cosato, but they will brush you off. Once you may have been useful, but not any more. They do now control the levers of power, and do not need the collaboration of white guys like you anymore. There may be one of two who will out of friendship or other commonality be good to you, or even listen. But not the collective. They have a sense of their own destiny, their own desires, and their own capacity. They will "take South Africa" back from the white man for whom they see no place in Africa. Whites are, in essense, trespassers on black ground and must be ejected. MBeki is himself one of the biggest proponents of this view, which is why so many whites were ejected from the civil service and parastatals in the 1990s, when you were choosing not to see the obvious. I do not know what your role was in this -- perhaps like Gavin Evans you were an enabler of these commies and assorted thieves. Now I wonder about people like you, who not only worked against apartheid apparently, but chose to step over to join the other side. DO you feel a pang when you read about Razelle Botha, or Sandy Staat, or the many other victims of the ANCs liberation?

Wessel said...

Hi jvr. Yes, I do feel responsible. Which is why I am committed to make a positive difference.

Please bear in mind that you are 3 times more likely to be murdered in South Africa if you are black than if you are white. (By and large this is because many crimes are committed within families.)

And I'm sure you are aware that its not only whites emigrating now.

But I do not believe the view that there is no 'pushing out' of whites at you put it. Outside of the state it is probably not orchestrated, but it is happening I think. Whites do intensely feel pushed out.

And I do think many lefties that truely believe in liberal or progressive politics have been too
quiet for way too long. Danger lights were flashing some time ago.

But two wrongs do not make a right. Apartheid in practise was indefensible. In theory it was questionable. Even arch reactionaries like Dan Roodt was irked by what he calls 'kleinlike
moraliteit en diskriminasie' in the 80s. Separate hotels, separate park benches. I mean how demeaning is that? How stupid!

Now the vast majority of Afrikaners had good intentions and were no more racist than anybody else put in their position. But we went along with these kleinlike rules. Did we not learn from what the British did to us? The humiliation we put our fellow countrymen through. And some of us were disgusting in what we said and did, and to our shame we did fight this hard enough.

A little tale: You know that our two most successful units during the Bush War, 32 battalion and Koevoet were 80% or more black. These guys fought more contacts than any of the other units, for us. They were never even allowed to drink with the white soldiers. And when they came back to South Africa they were treated as second class citizens. That is how stupid we were.

No apartheid as practiced had to go.

NP van Wyk Louw once wrote that its better for a people to stop existing than to live on in injustice.

Yes, Afrikaners were dealt a rough hand and live in a rough neighborhood. But apartheid was not a solution. Perhaps it would have been if 80% of the land had been given to black South Africa, instead of the other way around.

JVR said...


Dankie vir jou antwoord. Ek waardeer jou antwoord vir wat dit sê.

Kom ek begin met een van jou laaste gedagtes: Oor Koevoet en 32B. Ek het 'n Pro Patria met meer as 'n jaar grensdiens. Wat jy hier onder beweer is verkeerd...ons het wel saam gedrink en geëet, ten minste in die bosse.

Ja, apartheid was verkeerd. Dit was korrek om daarteen te wees...dit is egter inkorrek om dan te aanvaar dat dit die volgende impliseer:

(1) Afrikaners nie veilig mag leef nie
(2) dat die ANC 'n verbetering is
(3) dat Afrikaners nie kulturele en taalregte mag geniet nie
(4) dat ondersteuning van die ANC soos deur Beyers Naude moreel en reg was.

Dit is immers een ding om teen die Apartheid te wees, en 'n hele ander ding om vir die ANC te wees. Die ANC is 'n tipiese roofregering, en gaan ons nog baie skade aanrig (en het reeds).

Wat jy oor moord sê: Dis waar, swart mense is meer dikwels die slagoffer. Maar kom ons kyk hoe Mbeki met statistieke omgang. Hy beweer dat moord in SA 'n "normale"
misdaad is omdat meeste (83%) van slagoffers hulle aanvallers ken.

Dit is nie onwaar nie.

Wat hy nie sê nie, is dat die oorweldige meerderheid van wit Afrikaners wat vermoor word, nie hulle aanvallers ken nie. Dieselfde statistiek sou 'n skandaal in die Weste veroorsaak het. Ek het nou al tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat ons Afrikaners se lewens nie tel nie. Dit maak vir niemand saak as ons mense vermoor en verkrag word nie, nie eens vir ander Afrikaners nie.

Wat my verder baie ontstel, is hoe enige Afrikaner wat protesteer teen die moorde (en teen die ANC se roofregering), sommer dadelik met die rassekwas geverf word (deur mense soos Gavin Evans en ander Afrikaners soos Koos Kombuis – in die opsig kan jy maar gaan lees hoe Gavin Evans my behandel op sy blog oor Mbeki en Zuma (toegegee, ek het hom bietjie hard behandel, maar hy is steeds in totale ontkenning oor sy eie morele aandadigheid)).

Laastens: Jy hoef Gavin Evans se gat nie so te lek nie. Hy het in die oë van sy mede-ANC lede gekyk en die hasepad gekies. Net soos Mac Maharaj. Oor wat hy daarin gesien het, wil hy nie skryf nie, en hy leef dus in algehele ontkenning oor sy aandadigheid aan die moorde en aanvalle in SA veroorsaak deur die ANC se bestuur.

As Gavin (en jy) so sterk oor apartheid gevoel het, hoekom is julle nou so stil oor die moorde op ons mense? Hoekom is julle so sku vir kritiek op die ANC? As Gavin so sterk oor Apartheid gevoel het dat hy by die ANC aangesluit het, hoekom is hy nou op die kantlyn en onbetrokke, terwyl ander mense die gevolge van sy politiek moet verduur?

Die groter prentjie is die volgende: Die Weste (en die kommunistiese blok, met die ondersteuning van aktiviste soos Gavin Evans, oom Joe, Nadine Gordimer, ens) wou nie hê dat Afrikaners vir hulle plek in die son veg nie (en ons het buitendien die verkeerde geveg aangeknoop, vir die Amerikaners – ek weet tot vandag toe nie hoe Afrikanerleiers tot die besluit gekom het dat Afrikaners en Amerikaners se doeleindes ooreenkom nie).

Die resultaat is wat ons vandag het. As ons geveg het, sou daar uiteindelik 'n beter skikking gewees het, met 'n kans op 'n toekoms. Daar is egter nou geen toekoms nie, behalwe moord en uiteindelik honger. Ek wonder wie is verantwoordlik hiervoor?

Wessel said...

Haai JVR.

I'm going to answer you in English because one of the reasons I started this blog is to offer an Afrikaner perspective to non-Afrikaners: most of the very interesting stuff debated by Afrikaners is lost to the world.

You said:
(1) Afrikaners nie veilig mag leef nie
(2) dat die ANC 'n verbetering is
(3) dat Afrikaners nie kulturele en taalregte mag geniet nie
(4) dat ondersteuning van die ANC soos deur Beyers Naude moreel en reg was.

1) Of course Afrikaners should have a right to live in security. If you read Gilliomee's The Afrikaners, you see that has always been our problem and was what drove most of Afrikaner's actions - including the Great Trek and apartheid.

2) There was a time that I honestly believed that the ANC was at least morally superior. But I and true liberals or progressives never supported a democratic plural system, not a party that sees itself as ordained to be in power forever.

3) Of course Afrikaners should have cultural rights

4) Do you know the story of Beyers Naude? If you did I doubt you would say that. Beyers Naude was a brave person that stood up against injustice, and poverty, was steadfast and principled and completely unlike Mbeki and the current crop of ANC leaders.

I agree with you, if the ANC is damaging our country then people should not support them.

But, during the time of apartheid the ANC was all we had. It was broad church and the ANC subscribed to the Freedpm Charter, a document the current crop of leaders seem to have forgotten exists.

"Wat hy nie sê nie, is dat die oorweldige meerderheid van wit Afrikaners wat vermoor word, nie hulle aanvallers ken nie. Dieselfde statistiek sou 'n skandaal in die Weste veroorsaak het."

I agree.

And I especially agree that people tend to dismiss criticism as racism without thinking twice and without engaging in the argument.

And I am not quiet about the murder of Afrikaners, just go ahead and read my blog. Neither am I not deeply critical of the ANC.

I don't think for a moment war would have given South Africa a better solution. But the NP and South African civil society, NGO's, and media, was incredibly naive at the negotiation table.

We did not learn the lessons from what happened in the rest of Africa.

PS: I was referring to eating and drinking at the base. I know they did everything together in the bush, which makes it even less comprehensible.

Wessel said...

Paragraph 2 should have read

2) There was a time that I honestly believed that the ANC was at least morally superior. But I and true liberals or progressives supported a democratic plural system, not a party that sees itself as ordained to be in power forever.

JVR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JVR said...


If you prefer English, then let me stick to it. Afrikaans is doomed, in any case.

We have a plural democratic system in South Africa = one man - one vote and a majoritarian parliament. This is exactly what the ANC fought for, and this was also understood during the 1960s and 1970s what the Freedom Charter was about.

This is namely, a democratic system in a unitary state with no allowances for the cultural diversity of South Africa. Add to this that the word "democratic" in this context gets its content from the Marxist tradition of the organization. Everybody understood this, and also knew that this will kill the Afrikaner. That is why the reaction of Afrikaners to the ANC was so severe.

The ANC certainly never proposed the notion that Afrikaners had a right to some measure of self-government, not even at the tertiary level. Moreover, their actions on the independence of Afrikaans schools and properties since 1994 also gives meaning to the word "Transformation", which they throw around with such abandon - it means to take over, to possess, to rename, to inherit, what was once Afrikaans.

For what it is worth: A swiss constitution would have been more appropriate, given SA linguistic, cultural and historical baggage.

About Beyers Naude: Sorry, as a young student at Wits in the 1980s some ANC activists on campus condemned people they consider collaborators with the regime as "sell-outs".

This is what Naude is to the Afrikaner, a sell-out: He did not seek to lead the Afrikaner out of his conundrum. Instead he walked over to the other side and sang their songs, and he was smart enough to know that victory for his side will mean death for Afrikaners in many ways (cultural, linguistic, and physically).

On another level I am happy to hear that I was not alone in having a sinking feeling in 1994 when I learned to details of the new constitution. Margaret Thatcher, for what it is worth, was apparently appalled at the details as well. Or at least, so rumour has it.

But that is water under the bridge. There are no reasons anymore for the ANC to reconsider, they hold all the levers of power, and Afrikaners have no means of defending against them. The only out in fact, is emigration, and those who can are taking that option. This will be followed by extinction in their adopted countries, and in South Africa, first marginalization and insecurity, followed by extinction in two or three generations.

The facts of life, Wessel, are tragic. Like most other real life stories, this one does not have a good ending. But that is life, and all we can do is to make it as painless as possible.

Wessel said...

jvr, go and read your history. Beyers Naude never walked. He was rejected, no expelled, viciously - by Afrikaners.

Why? Because he said what you said just now - Apartheid was wrong. He was kicked out of the White Dutch Reformed Church and out of the Broederbond.

He then joined the black NG church. He started a church in a township but it was burned down to the ground by the security branch of the police. He was banned from speaking publicly.

Is it that surprising that he became involved with helping the ANC? (Bishop Tutu did the same, do you have a problem with him? Ok, I get it, he is not an Afrikaner.)

Actually I find that general argument rather annoying. If all people just acted according to their heritage and not their conscience what a sad world we'd have. I mean Emily Hobhouse was British and she helped the Boers during the war because it was the right thing to do.

But back to Naude. Despite his long association with the ANC, Naude never actually joined the party. This fact lead to him being politically sidelined.

The freedom charter begins with the line, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. That does not sound anything like the racial Africanist agenda of Thabu Mbeki's ANC.

A while ago Van Zyl Slabbert talked about this creeping Africanism at Wits: "Slabbert took as his main theme Thabo Mbeki’s 1996 I Am an African speech. The speech, he told delegates, had incorporated all South Africans - black, white, Asian and coloured - into the definition of “African”.

“If I am asked why I am an African, I say because my president told me so,” he said.

However, 10 years after the speech, the prevailing political climate still maintained that Indians, whites and coloured people could not be African. The fact that Indians and coloured people were not considered African was underlined by Mbeki’s formula that the ANC aimed to liberate “blacks in general and Africans in particular”.

Slabbert also slammed the continued use of racial categories in, for example, the employment equity database, saying he refused to identify himself by race on application and other forms."

I agree with Slabbert, and this is not the ANC of the Freedom charter.

Like I said before, the old ANC comprised church groups, trade unions, black nationalists, women's movements, communists, socialists, human rights campaigners, gay groups, hippies, academics and a whole host of other interest groups.

In hindsight it should have been clear that it was the black nationalists calling the shots - and civil society should have been more gaurded right from the beginning.

All that has remained is the black nationalist group and allot of opportunists.

When Dennis Davies was accused of being a racist in 1996, we should have taken note.

In an article titled BACK TO THE PAST IN SOUTH AFRICA? Christopher Merrett said:

"In 1996 lawyer Dennis Davies, with an impeccable record of opposition to apartheid criticised the appointment to the government's Human Rights Commission (HRC) of individuals with political backgrounds at variance with the concept of civil liberty.

"His statement was a well-motivated expression of opinion which would have passed unremarked in any robust democracy.

The reaction in the brave new South Africa was to brand him a racist, a trendy term of abuse hurled at any white who effectively challenges the new establishment. What made it worse was the fact that the first stone was cast by Barney Pityana, chairperson of the HRC. He was apparently incensed that Davis should have criticised a committee set up by Nelson Mandela and stoutly defended appointees with dubious backgrounds on the ground that they needed 'educating'."

In 1999, when Helena Dolny, Joe Slovo's wife was bullied from the development bank by an apartheid ex homelands agriculture minister and now ANC member Bonile Jack, the warning signals should have flickered.

With the benefit of hindsight it would also seem that the constitution was inadequate in protecting us against state misuse of power.

But then nobody, not even the Nats in the end, guessed that the ANC leadership would so ignore general principles of good governance and be so obsessed with race.

But jvr, I think you make a grave mistake if you think this is the end of this story. There's allot left and allot to save.

Those that can't leave wont just disappear.

If Afrikaners can mobilize themselves in a disciplined and sensitive fashion, with savvy leadership, then they can achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the world they never would have had, had 1994 not happened.

JVR said...

Let us agree to disagree about Oom Bey.

Van Zyl Slabbert, whom you clearly admire, took the honourable option, trying to lead his people into a moral dispensation.

You are naive in your interpretation of the Freedom Charter. All these documents for liberation starts out that way, that things belong to the people, or that from everybody according to his ability, or the people will rule, or everybody will be equal, and so forth.

(If you go and read what Fidel Castro had to say, or Chavez, or for that matter Franco or Mussolini, you will find that they all started from the moral high ground, as does the Freedom Charter, the Commie Manisfesto, etc. Nothing new there. Yet these people executed and oppressed with abandon apparently consistent with what they set out to do).

The practical matter in South Africa is that Afrikaners composes such a small minority (<5%) in South Africa, that they are irrelevant in the politics of the place, and have no means of exercising collective rights, even it those have been given. Moreover, because of emigration, and migration from the rest of Africa, that 5% is set to shrink ever more.

In the final analysis you cannot have a Freedom Charter talking of a country for blacks and whites as if it is a 50-50 deal when whites are 5% of the population. Majoritarian principles will simply mean that blacks takes it all, and that whites will be “dissolved” into the greater population as incidentals. This is what the ANC meant with their “black and white” – in the end a unitary state with a single South African, presumably English-speaking, with a single African culture, and certainly no Afrikaans heritage, please. If I read Orwell closely, then I could buy the allegation that the Freedom Charter was a ploy to get whites to buy into the ANC’s long term project, but that the principles would be abandoned once they have served their purposes. This is after all more or less what occurred.

When you wrote that “no-one guessed that the ANC leadership would so ignore general principles of good governance and be so obsessed with race” I would have to disagree with you. I did guess. No, I knew, and I knew other people who guessed that. Many of them packed up and left in 1994. But let us leave that there.

Sorry, I think it is the end of history for Afrikaners, unless there is a dramatic change on the international scene. Afrikaners have been trumped with a post-modern Ace. Our very existence, or our very normal and human expression of our cultural heritage, has been declared racist. We have no means to morally exercise what French Canadians, Flemish, and minorities in Switzerland takes for granted: the ability to raise our children and to renew our population unfettered in an Afrikaans centered environment. From a Darwinnian perspective the failure to pass on genes and memes means extinction. This is what will happen to us. We had our innings, we can hope historians will say some good things about us, but in the big scheme of things it is game over. The next generation of Afrikaners will be half of the current, and the one after that one quarter, with exponentially decay killing the culture and language in very short measure.

I am sorry to hear that Dennis Davies and Helen Dolny got the shorter end at some point. But I am unsurprised about this. Of course, the real reason for their falling from grace is that they are white, and so no longer needed in the black project once they had served their purposes. Sorry about being blunt about this, and I have some measure of sympathy. I remain surprised though that they did not understand the words of a man they (or at least Dolny) should have known well, given their political leanings.

In the final analysis I will have to disagree with your (and Slabbert’s) view that the ANC of today is not the ANC of the Freedom Charter. The very same people of those years are in fact still the leadership of that organization. The most prominent enabler of Black Nationalism is Thabo Mbeki himself, son of a scion of the Freedom Charter. Nelson Mandela has never, as far I know, repudiated the Black Nationalism of the ANC. Nor has any of the other leadership from the days in exile done so. In fact, I would claim that they are in broad agreement about the politics of the ANC, namely that South Africa is an African Country, and in Mbeki’s words, that Boers (thus whites) are a special kind of settler who has not left South Africa yet. In this analysis, Thabo Mbeki’s speech (you cite above) in 1996 was designed to put whites at ease, and to stabilize South Africa as a young democracy. That speech meant nothing more than that. It served a purpose at the time. Underneath however, the transformation of South Africa to a black-only state continued unabated. This is the real legacy of the Struggle, and in my opinion, ordinary Afrikaners, who are and will be the victims of this process, deserves an apology from those people who willingly, and unknowingly, supported the ANC and enabled them in their conquest.

Wessel said...

jvr, you make some good points. But for everything you have written, you have not suggested an alternative accept war. And even then, at some point, you would have had to agree on some settlement. Or would you propose an eternal war?

You mention: "We have no means to morally exercise what French Canadians, Flemish, and minorities in Switzerland takes for granted: the ability to raise our children and to renew our population unfettered in an Afrikaans centered environment."

You could have added, the Basques, the Catalans, the Galicians, the Kosovans or the Chechnyans, who have had trouble gaining independence, even when they were a majority in a specific territory.

Afrikaners don't have that. Now if we were not so greedy. There is no way that Afrikaners, as a small minority could have continued to lord it over other South Africans. If you supported Karel Boshof's project way back I would have more sympathy. But your cries ring hollow without suggesting workable and just solutions.

Your right life is not fair, and as I said, Afrikaners are in an unenviable position.

But I suggest you use your energy in a more positive creative way. Sounds like you have nothing to loose. Join and help an organisatio like Afriforum, who in a few short years has been very effective in addressing injustices, and not even just limited to those suffered by Afrikaners. You might find it refreshing helping yourself and others.

As an aside. Pre 1994 the Afrikaners were wedded to English South Africa. One of the reasons the Nats made the decisions they did were because they were speaking for white South Africa, and not Afrikaners. They would never had left the English whites out of their solution.

But a state based on simple race would never have been accepted by the world, never. And quite rightly so.

Now if they wish, Afrikaners are free to campaign for an Afrikaner homeland. Something I would support, if it was not based on race.