'Radical right' AfriForum doesn't speak for progressive Afrikaans speakers – ANC MP Juli Kilian
ANC MP Juli Kilian came out swinging against the conservative Afrikaner interest group AfriForum and condemned the DA for not raising its voice against the controversial organisation which denies that apartheid was a crime against humanity.
She was met with derision from the DA and FF Plus as she spoke during the debate on the Department of Higher Education and Training's budget on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking in Afrikaans, Kilian said: "Today I want to express my dismay with the actions of AfriForum and other right radical individuals and institutions."
Senior members of AfriForum recently went on a trip to the USA to lobby politicians and other role players about what they call the "persecution" of Afrikaners, especially with relation to farm murders and Parliament's decision to start a process to review section 25 of the Constitution with an eye on making land expropriation without compensation possible. They also claimed the government was complicit in farm murders.
Upon their return, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said "you cannot equate crimes against humanity with apartheid" because millions were killed during the Holocaust compared to what he estimated to be around hundreds of people killed by the apartheid regime.
Kilian said the organisation did not speak on behalf of Afrikaans speakers.
Afrikaans being 'throttled'
"Kallie Kriel and Ernst Roets [Kriel's deputy] – you who conspire with Ku Klux Klan elements in the USA against our democratic order – you do not speak on behalf of myself and other progressive Afrikaans speakers," Kilian said.
"But the interesting thing, honourable chairperson, is the deafening silence of the DA, which says a lot."
At this point FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, who spoke just before Kilian and said Afrikaans was being "throttled" at universities, said: "I don't speak on behalf of AfriForum or Solidarity, but I want to ask the honourable member if she is certain that they did indeed meet with the Ku Klux Klan?
"She is lying to Parliament," he said.
He was asked to withdraw his statement that Kilian lied to Parliament, which he did, but then added: "But I want to tell her she is telling an untruth and she knows it!"
Eventually, he withdrew unconditionally. Meanwhile, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi complained that translation services weren't available.
'Why are they so quiet?'
"This is very unfair to us. We are not Afrikaans-speaking people," she said.
"So what are we here for?"
The presiding officer said this was being attended to, and Kilian continued.
"The honourable Groenewald clearly didn't hear what I said. I didn't say they met with the Ku Klux Klan, I said they met with Ku Klux Klan elements."
Groenewald shook his head and laughed.
"But it is interesting that the honourable Groenewald is so sensitive," Kilian said.
She then switched to English.
"The silence of the DA on my left is equally interesting. Why don't they condemn it? Why are they so quiet?
"I'll tell you what I believe: They have a clandestine relationship with AfriForum."
'Aunty Pat is giving them a run for their money'
As she said this, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen raised a point of order, saying Kilian's speech was "drivel". His point of order wasn't sustained.
"Chairperson, I think I know why the DA is so quiet," Kilian continued. "The DA cannot dare to criticise AfriForum, because they're scared of the white electorate. They cannot stand up for what is right.
"Alternatively, they're busy with the next scheme to deal with Aunty Pat. Aunty Pat is giving them a run for their money," she said in reference to the DA's botched attempt to get rid of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, or Aunty Pat, as she is known in the Cape.
Again, Steenhuisen raised a point of order questioning the relevance of Kilian's speech. "The debate is on higher education, not the DA," he said.
He said if she wanted to speak about getting rid of people, she should rather tell the House about the ANC's process of using the state to get rid of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Again, Steenhuisen's point of order wasn't sustained, and Kilian said he was getting away with abusing the rules of the House.
Playing field 'far from level'
FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels also jumped up to complain about the relevance of Kilian's speech.
Kilian said the rolling out of fully subsidised higher education for poor and working-class families must be applauded and the DA's criticism of this budget shift was "frankly, completely incomprehensible".
"But perhaps it speaks of the DA's hypocrisy and doubletalk. They couldn't care about people from poor backgrounds, particularly poor black people," she said.
She said "the playing field is far from level", and when DA leader Mmusi Maimane spoke about white privilege he "triggered the anger of young white denialists in his caucus".
Kilian quoted several figures to illustrate the inequality in higher education between white and black students.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme asked if this situation wasn't created by the National Party, a party Kilian previously represented.
"Should she not take responsibility for it?" Van Damme asked.
Kilian ran out of time before she could answer Van Damme.