Transcript of the discussion on Radio 702 between Eusebius McKaiser (host), Wits VC Adam Habib, Professor Elmien du Plessis, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, and Johan Pienaar, 14 May 2018
Eusebius McKaiser (EM): Five minutes after ten, thank you so much for staying with us. We’re gonna be looking at AfriForum: how do you characterise this organisation, and what do you make of their politics in general. Is it just a case of, you have an organisation, which in accordance with its democratic rights are allowed to have a particular agenda and to set itself up, and kudos to them if they have sectional interests and that’s fine, that’s part of the hurly burly of democratic contestation.
Or, are they some sort of fascistic organisation and that is the kind of characterisation that some of their critics [are] in fact have given them as well. And I’ve got a couple of people who are joining me in this conversation. Let’s see first whether Skype is holding up. Professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor Wits University, but I’ve invited him on not in that capacity, but as one of our country’s most important and trenchant commentators and political analyst. Uh, Adam, good morning to you, well you’re in South Africa [in a way], I’m not sure where you are in the globe, but thank you so much for being part of the conversation.
Adam Habib (AH): Thank you for having me.
EM: And then I have on the line the CEO of AfriForum, Kallie Kriel. Kallie, goeiemôre, welkom.
Kallie Kriel (KK): Ja, baie dankie, Eusebius. It’s a pleasure speaking to you.
EM: And then here, in the studio with me, and I want to especially thank her, because it always makes for slightly better quality audio when we have folks in the studio, uh, so far as possible, and on short notice as well, Professor Elmien Du Plessis who’s an assistant professor in the law faculty at North West University in Potchefstroom, North West University. That is Professor Elmien Du Plessis, thank you so much for coming into the studio, I really appreciate that.
Elmien Du Plessis (EDP): Great, thank you for having me, Eusebius.
EM: Kallie, I’m gonna start with you. There is obviously lots of public contestation around firstly the trip to the USA, and then more generally, how to characterise what AfriForum’s agenda is. What its reasons for existing is. Can I ask you, as the CEO to articulate an answer to the second question, why does AfriForum exist? What is its purpose in 2018 in South Africa?
KK: Well, uh, AfriForum has two main goals, um, in the first place, we are not ashamed of the fact that, uh, we take on issues that are of importance to minority communities, that is our right, um, and it’s also important that everybody has a voice, and there should be organisations such as ours, but in the second place, we also promote the interests of the broader community, and there are numerous examples of that.
We are now acting on behalf of a rural black community with regards to mines that abuse their property, uh, we are taking on the KwaZulu-Natal education department of the health of children in Nkandla, and there are numerous of these examples, um, and we can do both this and, the problem is unfortunately, when your opponents don’t have answers, for your arguments, the easiest way to discredit you is to try and create some kind of stereotype to deter us. Um, but of course, if we allow that stereotype to deter us, um, then our opponents will succeed, so um, we are actually… The fact that that people that are of leftist orientation, that don’t care to protect property rights, that don’t care for the lives of farmers, if they start attacking us viciously, um, then it shows we on the right track.
EM: Elmien? Then, wat is die probleem? All Kallie wants to do is to make sure that we entrench constitutionalism like [key] property rights for example, and it sounded on his version that he’s indiscriminate about who he protects, both black people and white people. Can we go home?
EDP: Um, I think we can agree that protecting constitutional rights is a noble cause, and I think that is important, um, I also think it’s a bit simplistic to say leftist people necessarily wants to not have private property rights, I think it’s a more nuanced type of conversation that we are actually having at the moment, in the forums that I am sitting in at least on the section 25 possible amendment, but my problem comes in, and the constitutional court highlighted this in the Tswana vs. AfriForum case that dealt with, um, street names. The court said, this was the minority judgement that ruled in their favour.
The majority judgement was quite damning, um, but the minority judgement said they disagree profoundly with AfriForum’s view of history, and we think, that’s Judge Froneman and Judge Cameron, um, it would be better for white Afrikaans people, and indeed everyone else, to find their sense of place and belonging, not only in the past, but also in a shared future, one the constitution nourishes and guards for all of us, together united in our diversity.
So, and then they go on and they ask the question, Does this entitle us to say that AfriForum’s members sense of belonging, place and loss is not real, and that it should not be recognized under the constitution, and then they say, “No”. So I fully agree with that paragraph out of the judgement. Of course you have the right to look after your interests, of course you have the right to look after the things that are dear to you, and I see and I understand the fear that people have because people are losing things, I mean we can have moral discussions about that, but I think in fact people do have a sense of loss that they need to deal with, but my problem comes in that it’s done often in an isolationist way, in an exclusionary way in a way that does not benefit we the South Africans, the 55 million South Africans, and that is my criticism of the way they do things.
EM: So what is the problem with AfriForum’s raison d’être?
AH: So I think two things: I think that Elmien is absolutely right and I agree with her entirely in all the issues she raises. It seems to me that that’s the first thing. That firstly what you see is you want to articulate the case of a particular set of individuals, but you see that as exceptional, as outside of the broader cosmopolitan future that the constitution advocates. And what is interesting about the way you do it is you actually manufacture history, you skew data, and you come to a conclusion that is slightly distinctive to what a normal person would come to through the effective look at the evidence. That’s my first set of issues. And in the process, you articulate what is a very ethnic or very racist agenda. If you want to look at an example of this, just watch my Twitter timeline and see the responses of AfriForum supporters. How they responded. They say things like “go back to Pakistan”, I’ve never been to Pakistan, but for some reason… pigmentation of my skin for me going to Pakistan. There’s been the most scurrilous of racist remarks, and Kallie has been silent.
EM: Is Kallie a racist as far as you’re concerned, Adam?
AH: When you remain silent, when you allow people to articulate what they do in your name, without ever once saying, guys, this is not in my name, you don’t speak like that, that’s the one thing. But my biggest concern is their visit, and I’ve made this very clear on three or four tweets. I’m not really having a problem with them articulating, however skewed their analysis, what I do have a problem with, is when you go overseas, you meet with one of the most white-wing (sic) politicians, who is in my view a fascist [08:10], you take a picture of him, put it on Twitter and say, “I gave him my book! And it’s really good stuff.” It’s in a sense what you do, is you identify with the most worst parts of humanity, and fascists destroy the world.
He might as well have gone to the Klu Klux Klan, taken a photograph with them, and said, “Check me out! I’m in the US”, that’s what I say, it’s who you’re aligning with. It’s how you doing it. It’s what you implicitly saying to the world, when you do those things. That’s what I find offensive. And a world that is as divided as we are, in the world that is akin to what existed in the 1930s, that world is a dangerous world, and how you act, is very, very dangerous. Let me just say one final thing: John Bolton and the Trump administration have just pulled out of this thing on Iran. This world is on the verge of going to war, as it did in 2003 in Iraq. We paid for the consequences of that. In that kind of context, you go take a photograph and say, “Voilà! Look at us, we are walking around the US and look at who we are associating with”. That I find offensive and that is why I made the statement.
EM: Would you characterise AfriForum, from an organisation point of view, as straightforwardly a racist outfit?
AH: Oh, absolutely! I think it’s an utterly racist outfit. I think, what it stands for is racism. How it articulates its cases is racist. And, I think one must take a stand against it. And I think this is why I would articulate... By the way, given that it’s a racist organisation I don’t believe it should be banned. I don’t think one should declare it illegal, I think one must contest with it vociferously. We must make it unacceptable by social convention that you engage the kind of racism that AfriForum does.
EM: Kallie, are you a racist organisation? How do you respond to what Elmien has said, but particularly the last couple of remarks from Adam?
KK: Of course we are not, and this kind of strategy that Adam uses, and other people that are just intolerant as [he is], is to try and label you, without giving examples, we have come out strongly against racism, all forms of racism, also racism about white people, but they refuse to see that, but it’s quite hypocritical for Adam Habib to say that we are associating with fascists, while he uses the same kind of tactics that fascists. You know if you look at for instance, he speaks about distorting history, he came out in his email, to say, well we are equivalent to Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin… How insensitive is he to the victims of the Holocaust, to try and portray us, or Hitler, as the same to us, so that’s the kind of strategy, he does not give examples of where we are racist, he just (tries) and labels us.
EM: But you guys make the same, I hear you Kallie, but some of your leadership is guilty of exactly the same thing that you accusing Adam Habib of. When you talk about white people facing genocide, or genocidal threats even in SA, or drawing analogies between say Holocaust survivors and being a white Afrikaner farmer in South Africa in 2018, that too, is a straightforward example of really, really, in a callous way undermining very serious experiences in the 20th century that people have had at the hands of the worst kinds of regimes in human history. Being a white South African, including a white South African farmer, does not compare to what it was like to really be part of a community that experienced genocide in various parts of the world, I mean it’s, you are guilty of similar kinds of ahistorical comparisons.
KK: No, um, Eusebius, you must give me one example where AfriForum has ever compared this to genocide. What we do say, there are very worrying signs, such as hate speech that is going on that can be associated in the beginning of genocide, but we’ve never said it’s genocide, we never equated ourselves to the Holocaust. It was Adam Habib who did that. But the problem is that you have people making sweeping statements about us, and are very intolerant. You know, if Adam Habib says we (quiet), we condemn any form of racist behaviour, and for him to now try and portray every racist as an AfriForum supporter, then I can say these people that are giving us death threats, that are threatening our families, that have made extremely racist remarks regarding us, then I can say that is Adam Habib’s supporters.
EM: But Kallie, hold on, you want facts of where you said this, right? I mean just go back to your own announcement, I mean, you guys do this all the time, but this is just one of many of these examples: 21st of January 2013, stop white genocide in South Africa, Volg asseblief die skakel en teken die petisie. Oh come on! There’s the evidence right there.
KK: No, no, where’s that Eusebius? Um, we use those slogans “stop farm attacks”, we use those slogans “stop farm attacks”.. that is..
EM: Elmien, have Kallie been imputed views that he never actually held, that AfriForum never had. Are commentators and academics like yourself and Adam making up facts about how they self-identify?
EDP: Um, well, I think it is fair to say that AfriForum in their official documents don’t use the word “white genocide” or “genocide”. I see on Ernst Roets’ page for his book he uses the word “ethnic cleansing” and then one can have a debate, what’s the difference between ethnic cleansing and genocide, but me, I’m a semantic person, so, so I’ll take it that there is a difference, but I mean, there’s been numerous occasions Ernst Roets himself on his page on the 18th of June in 2017, he said “swart regeringsamptenaare moedig volksmoord teen wittes aan en kom dan niks oor nie,” which, I mean, volksmoord is genocide. So I think they border on that line and they very careful but then sometimes they overstep, which for me shows that, you know, if we gonna have the substance-form argument, that maybe, you know, that there’s [?]
EM: Well, then let me ask you the question straightforwardly Kallie, is there ethnic cleansing going on in South Africa?
KK: No, no, there’s not ethnic cleansing going on. There are serious warning signs, that if we don’t take on the issue, and we allow people like Julius Malema to go ahead and say, well,”we not calling for the wholesale killing of whites, at least not for now”. Or if I can use the point there Elmien said… what Ernst was referring to, is Velaphi Khumalo, who, an official in government, said that we should kill whites like Hitler killed the Jews, so he was indeed calling for genocide, and Ernst actually just referred to that, so, and of course we know that Velaphi Khumalo still works for the government today. He simply got a slap on the hands and those things, they [are the] things that agitate us, we want to build a better future with everybody in the country, we condemn all kinds of murders, but it seems like, when it comes to things like, with Velaphi Khumalo, there’s not, people don’t stand together and blame that, we’re actually hearing Elmien now using our stance against what Velaphi Khumalo said, using it against us. That kind of thing.
EM: Ok! Twenty-two minutes after ten, you’ve heard some remarks from my three guests this hour. How do you see it? How would you characterize AfriForum. Do you think it is just an organization that can exist in law and that’s fine, and there’s nothing more to be said, or do you agree with Adam, that even if you don’t ban them, nevertheless, there’s a very dangerous racist project at its core that needs to be made uncool, in a sort of social kind way, so that they don’t have much influence to be able to set the national agenda. How do you see it? 011 883 0702. Give us a call in Joburg, in Cape Town 021 4460 567. Let’s go to Mitchell’s Plain. Richard, good morning to you and welcome to the show.
Caller One (C1): Morning, Eusebius, how are you?
EM: Good, thank you.
C1: Yes, to the gentleman there. Um, mine is just a question, a simple one. Um, seeing that you claim to be advocating for the population of the country, of [the] South African people, um, is your membership open to black people? If not, why?
KK: Yes, it’s open to black people, um, anybody’s welcome to join. We don’t even have a question regarding race in our application forms.
EM: Richard! Do you want Kallie to send you their application forms?
C1: No, no, no, no [laughs]! I’m not interested, but I just wanted to know exactly, uh, since they are claiming to be advocating for everyone in the country, whether…
EM: And what do you make of them? What do you think about them? When I say “AfriForum”, what comes up for you?
C1: You know what, what comes to mind when you mention the word “AfriForum” is, is the issue, um, of opportunism if you get what I mean. Uh, now that, um, for example, the issues of land have come to the fore, and uh, all of a sudden it’s injustice, whereas, um, during the apartheid days, this AfriForum was nowhere to be found to advocate for black people to stop apartheid.
C1: That’s what comes to mind.
EM: Hmm, ok, interesting viewpoint. Caleb, good morning.
Caller two (C2): Hi, how are you, Eusebius?
EM: Very well, thank you, sir.
C2: I’m good thanks. I think AfriForum is [a] [fascist?] movement that is inciting an emotive reaction from the group they are [?], because now, for example, they claim there is a form of white genocide, or something like that, on, or on white farmers, but, at the same time [those?] white farmers kill […]. For the last years they’ve been killing […] farmworkers and they say nothing about that. What does it tell you about their position in South Africa. They only focuse on their own group […] on the receiving end of something that is unjust, but, for the other group, that they are perpetrating.
EM: I’ll let Kallie respond in a second, Caleb, but can I ask you this question. When you look at AfriForum, and obviously Kallie has his own idea about how to characterise it, but, let’s say you and I, for argument’s sake agree that this is an organisation that has sectional interests, and racialised interests in particular, so what? Where are you and I, when are you and I gonna set up the organisations that look after, say for example, farmworkers and their plight. Where’s our solidarity under the social justice organisations, farming community pressure groups in the Western Cape for example, that often struggle to get those of us who live away from the farming communities to actually demonstrate deep empathy in the struggles of the vulnerable people. Why don’t we have our own version of AfriForum?
C2: Ja, no, you know what, I actually think that should be the case, because if we [focused?] and also raise issues against that, and go maybe internationally to raise that farmworkers are dying, then they will notice that they are, that what they are doing is completely nonsense.
EM: Hmm, ja, and that’s the contestation I was talking about. I’m gonna bring Adam in in a second, but um, Elmien, I wanted to ask you this question, is part of the public discussions have been around the statistics, the stats, and the empirical truth, and what is truth, and what is fiction, and what is exaggerated. How do we even begin to negotiate that particular question in terms of what is the truth about the experiences of white farmers in SA?
EDP: Yes, I think it’s very difficult. I think to start off, and this is the conversation I hope to start, or the debate I hope to start when I started tweeting, is to say like, these statistics are not clear. We are not sure what’s going on there. Johan Burger, you had him on last year, he said the same thing. There are many organisations that will say… the way we work out these murder rates, the statistics are not there. It’s very old, it’s outdated, so I think from that point of view its very dangerous to then have a definite standpoint, to say farmers are killed five times more than ordinary people, because the stats are not clear on that. And also, you have to then see it in the context, if indeed the Vryheidsfront is correct, that the murder rate stands at 153, that’s the same murder rate as Nyanga for instance, so, it matters what area you live in... The murder rate in Cape Town is 62.
If the stats that Ernst Roets tweeted earlier this week of 20 out of 32 000 commercial farmers are killed, that brings you to a stat of 64 per 100 000, and that’s the same as Cape Town, so, I’m not saying that the farmers are not suffering, and I also think that one needs to consider the economic impact from when a farmer is killed, right, there’s a business that goes, there are people that are employed and left vulnerable, so I’m not disputing that there are not instances where it’s horrible. I mean the things that I have to read and I was exposed to this last week because people think I don’t sympathise with the farmers, you know, it goes, it sits in your bones because you can’t think that people can do this thing to other people. Um, but I also think that you need to look at the bigger context. Why do we have this big crime issue?
Can you solve the issue of farm murders without looking at the bigger crime issue, what’s the problem with for instance reporting it at the station, do they get into the courts? Are the perpetrators caught? If they are caught, are they behind bars, or how else do you solve this problem. If the problem is inequality, now do we address the problem of inequality to prevent crime, so that’s what I’m calling for: a bigger discussion that’s more nuanced, that’s more complex, that looks at these things how they’re interrelated and in that context I, I mean, I know many organisations that fight for farmworker rights and I’m.. I understand that you cannot solve everybody’s problems, but you need to be able to engage with other people and you need to be able to see the bigger picture and to link and to work together, to also protect your interests, but to protect your interests in the context of South Africa.
EM: I want you to pick up on that point from Elmien please for me, Adam, because when we, which we are wont to do in this country, extrapolate from first-person anecdotal experience and that’s powerful and important and I… as a talk-show host I’m all for the value, including the catalysing value of telling our individual stories, not to be stopped because someone has a [?] that tells you, you know your story doesn’t fit patterns, but at the end of the day, we do need to know aggregate facts, how do we enter this conversation so that we don’t have everyone saying, ja, but this is my experience in the Ventersdorp area, uh, so, I’m just talking from [an] experience, we need to be able to have robust data Adam, and it seems to me, in the contestation of what is fact and fiction, that in the public realm in particular, there’s a dearth of robust data around, uh, whose realities are pre-eminent experiences of crime in this country.
AH: I think that that’s absolutely right. I mean, let me, let me start by saying, look, I think that, and I’ve said this before and I think that many people have said it. That crime is unacceptable in this country, crime against poor people, crime against rich people, crime against farmers. Any death in South Africa is one death too many, and there is really a big agenda to do that, and I think that you going to address that in two ways: One, is to deal with the structural dynamics in this society, the deep levels of inequality, the deep levels of marginalisation etc.
But you’re gonna also have to deal with it, by levels of security and appropriate measures of policing. Now to do that you need the macro data. And one of the tragedies of South Africa and the South African police, is that we do, firstly, government took on that role, it closed down the space for the provision of data. And it tries to put out data that suits its purposes. And in a sense we aren’t able to get independent variable, verifiable data that’s nuanced, that is aggregate, that is showing us patterns and that allows us to engage in what are the kinds of policing operations that required. That I think is absolutely fundamental, and Elmien is absolutely right in that. But second, I think the way organisations like AfriForum engage on this, actually detracts from the process.
Because what they do is they take the anecdotal, they racialise it in a particular way and, as you said, somebody else can show that the same data is not in any way exceptional, and then they detract, instead of saying how do we resolve policing, how do we generate the data, we talking about who’s dying and why they dying and why it’s one group of people and not the another. It detracts from the kinds of ways that… and the third thing it does, is it articulates implicitly a set of values. A set of values that brings to the fore the racism, both from AfriForum supporters, by the way, but from others who respond. And if you wanna just see a single example, Kallie’s been running around my email, tweeting away to me, if he simply reads all of those tweets, from both sides, he’ll see that the racism implicit that is coming out from both sides.
EM: Ok, let’s…
AH: Unless we bring that under control we’re in trouble.
EM: Ok, we hold that thought and then we get Kallie to jump in on this question of stats as well and sourcing a hygienic data and where anecdotes can be misleading even though they can also be very powerful devices for setting the national agenda. Let’s check in with our colleagues at the EWN desk…
EM: Twenty-three minutes before eleven, uh, Kallie, you’ve heard Elmien and Adam, none of them were saying that what, some of the stats we get from you are necessarily raw but that there are methodological complexities in South Africa that make it very hard for us to know what is the objective truth about how crime is experienced, who the victims are, who disproportionally are the victims, and that one needs a certain kind of intellectual humility about the numbers that you toss out when you say this is the plight for example of white folks in South Africa, or farmers black and white for that matter. So let me ask you this question, where does your data come from, when you talk about per 100 000 of the population and you say 158 or whatever number you use, where do you, how do you calculate that number.
KK: Yes, I can give you that, the unfortunate thing is in a debate like this is that it seems that the people that oppose us, have not taken the time to at least read what we are saying about the figures. Um, where our figures [come from] is we keep statistics ourselves, as others mentioned, government does not release farm murder statistics anymore, which I think is a big problem, so we can substantiate everything that we have with a name and a place. And of course our numbers would be conservative, ‘cause we don’t know everything, we not the police that we have access to their database, so we said that that, and we can confirm… cannot be distributed, but our figures correct. Where the problem comes in, and that we also quite frank about…
EM: But what is your stats? I mean, talk numbers to me, if you had to articulate in numerical terms, the plight of white farmers in terms of murder rate in this country, what is it?...
KK: If you look at over the past 20 years, there is 2 attacks per day and 2 murders per week, if I have to round off that. The problem I think where the dispute comes in, and in our book on farm murders we write clearly about this, is that the problem is... if you take [?] per 100 000, the murder rate, you need to know exactly how many farmers there are in the country, um, and a lot of people work on the estimate of about 32 000, but Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies was mentioned on this programme, and he estimated, he said, these are estimations, that on a farm your chances being killed is more than twice that of a police officer or 4 times that of a normal citizen, but it might be 3.5 or 3 times, but we’ve never said we should stick to that, but I think what should be clear is that the murder rate amongst farmers is higher than the national average.
EM: Ja, but you haven’t explained to me how you arrived at that!
KK: Ok, let me […] what we do is we say there are 74 farmers killed in a year and then you say, well, the estimate is that there are 32 000 farmers and you work out that murder rate per 100 000. So that’s an easy sum, but we’ve always, we state clearly in our documents that that is an estimate, but the estimate shows, [unclear] but the problem now is…
EM: Kallie, how many South Africans are killed per year in terms of murder?
KK: 19 000 and that’s in the murder rate of, if I remember correctly, 36 people per 100 000, and for farmers that we estimate, it’s 4 times higher, but even if you […] and say oh well it can only be two times higher, the problem is what we have here, you know, we should not complain about the murdering of women and children because men are also being killed, that would be a stupid argument, it would be, yes, it’s insensitive. If you […] say, well, we shouldn’t have a project to protect the rhino, because lions are also poached, you cannot have that.
KK: [..] murders is […] for us
AH: Can I…
EM: Just hold on here, Adam, I’m trying to give Kallie space in part because, you and Elmien have broadly similar critiques with some differences of him [?] and he’s in a minority on the panel, and I have to confess that even as I’m playing devil’s advocate, um, as a host, I’m struggling to understand, the methodology and the data assumptions going in there. For you, particularly where you wearing your hat academically from an empirical science point of view, are you following Kallie’s numbers?
AH: So, I don’t, the thing with the numbers is their actual interpretations, so let’s say we give a concession and say his numbers are right, and he says that the average death in farms, is three times that it is the national average, the question is, how do you come from there to day that there are attacks on white farmers, here’s the point, Elmien actually have you the example of death in Langa being higher than in other parts of the country and there’s lots of data showing, that’s in working class or poor areas, is higher, can I then make a conclusion that black people are being deliberately targeted from the data [EM: Ja!] that is available in Langa?
EM: That’s right!
AH: That’s the one problem, you suddenly take what is a spatial argument [EM: Hmm!] and converted it into a racial argument with stats with a significant amount of problems. Nobody is arguing at all [EM: Absolutely!] that murder is unacceptable [EM: Ja!] and we shouldn’t be having any murder.
EM: Let me get it straight so what you are saying is in a world in which, for argument’s sake, 90% of farmers in the country were phenotypically black you may have the same experiences, Adam, and that would be because they invite, given criminality, given the spatial reality of how vulnerable you sit where you are located in society, it doesn’t necessarily point to a deliberate project to get rid of black farmers.
AH: That’s exactly right.
EM: OK, let’s go to Stellenbosch, Johan Pienaar on the line. Johan, thank you for calling in, much appreciated. Um... you’ve heard the discussion going on so far, how would you like to intervene in the conversation? Obviously a complicated one and we are running out of time, but what are some of the most important points for you?
Johan Pienaar (JP): I’ll just make two short points. I’d just like to return to the myth that AfriForum is a multi-national [sic: racial?] organisation, um, when you look at their management structure and the people that they employ, they are virtually employed, for the most part, if you look on their website and in my experience, from the white Afrikaner minority group. So, um, they can claim to act for minorities, but if you acted for all minorities, surely you’d see other minorities represented in their structure, and they simply are not, so, what you have is people joining them… I have no doubt that they do have black and other members, but they are token members, and, you know, it is their right to join AfriForum, but AfriForum is not representing [their interests?, and I’d further like to debunk that AfriForum is a constitutional organization or interested in protecting the constitution.
Kallie Kriel himself after the ConCourt found against them recently, when [they] appealed the Bloemfontein language case, and they [rejected] the appeal went on a vitriolic attack against the constitution, saying it offers no protection to them and then attacked the process under which we arrived at this constitution, i.e. the Codesa negotiations and the process between 1994 and 1996, when the, when the constitution was actually written and finalised. So, it is a case of smoke and mirrors and it’s the same... and it’s the same case with the statistics, um, exactly what your speakers have pointed out, and, I’ve seen some of the threats against Elmien du Plessis, um, I’ve seen some of the threats and the racism directed at Adam Habib, and it is shocking and they stand back and they say…
EM: I’ll give you a chance in a second Kallie.
JP: Then they stand back and they say, well, we deal with racism, but you don’t actually see them dealing with white racism. You don’t actually see them dealing with people. And I know that I’ve sparred with AfriForum in the past, and that is my right, Ok, um, and, you know, they’ve taken me to court. The court found against them, the court said that after I’d spoken about their rape culture in their organisation, it also said that they are not, that they are a political organisation, in spite of their protestations that they are not a political organisation, um, and that’s basically all I have to [add] on this topic.
EM: Ja! Before I let you go and I’ve got to take a break, and then we gonna wrap it in the last ten minutes, I’m gonna give Kallie a chance, I wanted to ask you this question, obviously you have chosen to put a lot of energy into engaging with them, Elmien Du Plessis has done a little bit of that as well and come under attack. I can’t tell you how my producers struggled to get, [many] people who deeply disagree, who are Afrikaans and white, and academics, commentators, prominent South Africans, to be part of this conversation, it almost didn’t happen, because many of them are not prepared to actually engage, so I’m gonna have a full version of what I’m about to ask, so just give me your short answer for now.
It is a conversation that I’ve had in the past, but I think we need to have it again. Why is it that so many voices within the Afrikaner community allow AfriForum to set the agenda. Where is... for every one or two Karen Zoid Afrikaners, there are ten Steve Hofmeyr Afrikaners setting the agenda, which is why so many of us as black people, often think that Kallie speaks for all of you. And you as Johan and Elmien, you are minorities, I can’t tell you how many people who are serious academics and they listening to the show right now, declined to come on. It doesn’t help. That’s why black people think that Kallie speaks for all of you.
JP: Well, firstly the reason I’m speaking out is exactly that reason, is that, you know, I am in a sense a minority voice under Afrikaners but think it’s important that that minority voice is heard.
EM: Sure, sure!
JP: The reason that Kallie and them are getting the traction, and I, I attacked Waldimar Pelser of Rapport, is simply, it’s a monetary thing, um, I think people who try and understand AfriForum as a political organisation or a constitutional organization are wrong! They are probably the richest NGO in Africa.
JP: And, they, if take a look at their statistics, the amount of money, is probably in excess of R50 million a month and flowing into their coffers, and that is before their business activities are taken into account. And the media is under pressure. The Afrikaans media is under pressure, so what happens is that they have taken the easy road and they are serving where they think the economic interests, or their economic interests lie.
EM: Wow! You think that’s what Waldimar Pelser is doing at Rapport?
JP: Yes, and if… I can actually prove this by [example].. last year, AfriForum attacked JacarandaFM, I’m pretty sure you remember the case, right? What isn’t well known is that while AfriForum and Solidariteit attacked, and for the purposes of this discussion, I see them as one organisation, there’s slight differences, but they part of the Solidarity group, what isn’t commonly known is that the directors of Radio Pretoria, the direct opposition of JacarandaFM, include leadership of AfriForum, includes leaders in Solidarity.
EM: Wow!! Ok…
JP: And there’s no doubt, I’m sitting with some of these records in front of me…
EM: Ok… thank you, Johan, much appreciated. Let’s take a bit of a break there, I’ll give Kallie a chance to respond from the other side of this and if we have time left, and if we have time left, [...] and […] I’ll also take your calls.
EM: Sorry Kallie, a lot was said there and I said I would give you a chance to respond, you heard Johan as well and um to be fair, and I know we don’t have time for everything, but what are some of the most important points you’d like to make in response to what we’ve heard in the last couple of minutes.
KK: Well, I think it’s hypocritical of you to try and accuse us of intolerance. What Johan didn’t tell you was that when he was a student, he disrupted the meeting of former President Nelson Mandela and burned an ANC flag, so he has not been the […] example of tolerance. He’s [changed his political views] radically, that is his… he wants to accuse us of the kind of behaviour that he did when he was a student, and this is of course totally false.
EM: Hmm, but of course he’s allowed to evolve his views, right? Have you guys evolved your views about apartheid for example? Do you think apartheid was a crime against humanity?
KK: I don’t think that it was a crime against humanity, but I think it was wrong…and…
EM: You don’t think apartheid was a crime against humanity?
KK: Well, then we should declare communism where more than 100 million people…
EM: No, no, I’m not talking about communism, I’m just talking about apartheid, was apartheid a crime against humanity?
KK: I disagree that it was a crime against humanity, but it was a system that…
EM: [Loud whistle]
KK: Because it was a system that infringed on dignity, and, on the dignity of people, but that is a longer discussion, now, what for me is a problem, Eusebius, is that 20% of these farm murders are not just normal murders, um, if there can be such a thing, people are tortured with blowtorches, their feet and hands, there’s an example of the lady where a drill was used through her feet and hands, hot water is used to torture people, and these people are going to try and make accusations [...] because we are fighting against this then maybe we cannot sit around, we have [these] things going on. The same people that are jumping on us are not as critical as Julius Malema praises a lion that attacked a farmer, or those kinds of things. They are trying to trip us... not taking on our rights to take on these issues. We all have a problem with the Marikana killings and […] but, to focus on this because more police are killed on a yearly basis, that kind of, […] insensitive, just as insensitive as people saying we should not be allowed to take on.
EM: Ok, I gotta wrap it up now, so I just want to ask you Elmien, um, there are very particular points of disagreement here, but we gotta pull it all together, ultimately, for you, it is important that we think about narrative and come back to it, but in ways that are faithful to a multiplicity of experiences and truths.
EDP: Yes, no exactly, I wrote on Friday a piece as well where I quoted Adichie, that wonderful TED talk that she gave about the danger of a single story, and it dealt with the problem where complex human beings and situations are reduced to a single narrative, and I think we are complex stories, we are very heterogeneous, but to reduce people to one narrative is to talk down their humanity, so to reduce the call for expropriation without compensation to a story of just black people wanting to drive white people out of this country is to reduce the humanity of black people, to paint farmers as brutal baase and land thieves reduces the humanity of farmers, and to ignore the valid fears of people who stand opposed to this immense threat of violence whether they sit on farms or in townships or wherever, um, you know, and to reduce their humanity, so, the challenge for me comes in how the complexity, how can you speak about this complexity, step back, and look at the bigger picture and have this, these conversations, because in the end, Adichie also says that to talk about a single story is to talk about power, and stories are defined by how they are told. Who tells them, how many stories are told, and that often depends on power and the power to make a story that, the definite story of a person or a group of persons, um, and to not tell the story as a primary story, so I think farm murders have a complexity of stories and they all need to be told.
EDP: And I also think because as much as stories can be used to oppress, a single story can be used to oppress, I think, as much, a complexity of stories can help to humanise and move forward.
EM: Beautifully put. Adam, 30 seconds, a final thought from you and thank you so much for joining us on the programme by the way. I know you went out of your way. 30 seconds. What’s your closing thought for the moment?
AH: I’d simply say two things: the first is the reasons you aren’t able to get people to come in and speak openly is because of the politics of hate that come out of AfriForum. You’ve seen it against Elmien, you’ve seen it against me, these things people don’t like and can’t tolerate, and it’s that politics of hate that worries as does their alliances globally, with people, similar people with the politics of hate.
EM: Kallie thank you so much for coming on the show, I appreciate it, the CEO of AfriForum, thank you for having joined us today, the same for you Adam, thanks so much for being part of this conversation and then special thanks for coming all the way to the studio, I hope we have you on future shows again, professor Elmien du Plessis, thanks for being part of this conversation.
EDP: Thank you for having me, Eusebius.
Transcription by Marie Louise-Antoni. See original recording here.