NEWS & ANALYSIS

Solidarity will stand by sportsmen against intimidation over BLM

Movement says Minister Nathi Mthethwa trying to bring about a forced expression of speech

Solidarity will stand by sportsmen against intimidation over BLM

19 August 2020

Solidarity today expressed its dissatisfaction about statements from Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the eight South African rugby players who refused to fall to their knees in support of the BLM movement during a club match in England.

According to Werner Human, deputy chief executive for legal matters and research at Solidarity, the minister has no right to intimidate or victimise players on the basis of their support, or not, for the BLM movement. “Such behaviour falls completely outside the ambit of the minister’s powers, and it infringes on the players’ freedom of speech, belief and religion. We are not even mentioning freedom of expression, for that matter – what the minister is trying to do here is to bring about a forced expression of speech. This can never be tolerated.”

Solidarity has further stated that it would step in on behalf of any of the eight players targeted by the minister, as well as any other sportsman or woman who are disadvantaged in practising their profession due to their refusal to support the BLM movement.

Hennie Bierman, head of the Occupational Guilds division at Solidarity, explained: “No employer may force anyone to support a political movement. Even worse, no politician may interfere in the workplace to force an employer to do so. Professional sportsmen and women are already in a particularly precarious position with regard to job security. We cannot allow their constitutional rights to be violated as well.” 

Human concluded: “For the minister to consider opposition to the BLM movement to be racist is absurd. This movement and its harmful precepts and beliefs should actually be opposed because of the negative consequences it holds for all races. Although, just because we are not prepared to bend the knee for BLM, it does not mean we refuse to grant others that freedom. What is unacceptable, however, is to victimise players because of their own choice in this regard.  

Issued by Werner Human, Deputy Chief Executive: Legal Affairs and Research, 19 August 2020