OPINION

Banning of old flag won't solve problems – Afrikanerbond

Freedom of speech through symbols is now being restricted, what will be next?

Today’s problems will not be solved with the previous dispensation’s flags and symbols – nor with the prohibition on displaying the old flag. 

22 August 2019

Formal leave was taken in 1994 of the official flag of Orange, White and Blue. The flag was no longer displayed at official assemblies of previous governments, on military occasions and in every school and State building in the old South Africa. The new flag was adopted in 1994. Twenty-five years later, displaying the old flag in public has been declared to be hate speech.

The flag introduced in 1928 was based on the Dutch Prince’s Flag, and this flag also contains the Union Jack, the flag of the Free State Republic and the flag of the Zuid-Afrikaans Republic in the centre of the white band. In a certain way, the flag did succeed in summarising history. But in spite of sentiments, this flag was shelved and no longer has any status. In 1994 it was replaced by the current South African flag on the commencement of the republic’s transitional constitution and the end of apartheid.

Displaying the old flag was controversial. Some people regard it as a symbol of history and Afrikaner heritage, whereas others see it as a symbol of apartheid and white supremacy.

Now it constitutes hate speech to display the old national flag. The symbols of history are systematically being destroyed. Unfortunately this opens the door for other symbols which for some people personify their heritage and history, but for other people are symbols of oppression.

Freedom of speech through symbols is now being restricted. What will be next? This is the thin edge of the wedge for repressing other symbols too. Some examples are the Afrikaans section of the National Anthem, the symbols of the ANC and the EFF which are linked to violence, and those of the SACP which are associated with an internationally destructive ideology.

Today’s problems will not be solved by a prohibition on the flags and symbols of previous dispensations. Crime, corruption, state capture and economic collapse are happening right now under the present flag. Removing the symbol does not solve the problem.

Being a South African nowadays requires a greater sensitivity to space and understanding, for giving respect and taking responsibility. Our South African diversity requires this of us. In the same way, we must also have an understanding of and respect for one another’s history. Restricting the displaying of the old flag pits people against one another, instead of bringing them closer together.

Issued by Jan Bosman, Chief Secretary of the Afrikanerbond, 22 August 2019