The positions taken by DA MP Anchen Dreyer during the final stages of the National Assembly’s consideration of the Expropriation Bill, which it acceded to last week, reminded of the controversy early February when the said MP was found to have appeared at an event marking Paul Kruger’s birthday.
Her party responded adequately to the original accusations of racism, stating that her marking the birth of somebody that was very much also a cultural founding figure, could hardly been seen as inappropriate against the complexity of South Africa’s history. Those raising the criticism however neglected to raise questions about why it should be seen as appropriate for the DA’s National Caucus Chairperson to lend support to a Solidarity event, which is where the occasion in question took place.
The DA probably has in excess of 95% of the white Afrikaans vote sewn up. It is hardly imaginable that the party would need to demonstrate its support for Solidarity, such as with the comical photograph of Dreyer and the Paul Kruger cutout, to maintain support from this constituency. It is difficult to grasp why the party would want to do it at the cost of winning more black voters, who might be affronted by the ideology of Afrikaner exceptionalism and victimhood, which so often forms the basis for the positions espoused by Solidarity and its network of related organisations, such as Afriforum, Afriforum Jeug, AfriSake and so forth.
It is also not really defensible at a time in which the party’s leader has indicated impressive intent to grapple with race issues internally and in South Africa, and for the party to pledge its commitment to non-racialism at the level of every individual member.
Despite this, we have recently again seen Ms Dreyer aping Afriforum/ AfriSake’s fear-mongering in respect of the Expropriation Bill currently before Parliament.
Without getting too technical, the Bill is by no means the disaster for investor concerns as alleged by Ms Dreyer and Afriforum/Afrisake. The Bill is in many instances no more than an update of the 1975 Act to bring it line with the Constitution and more modern concepts of the definition property, yet this Ms Dreyer views as inimical to growing investment. The Constitution and not the 1975 Act should be used as the high water mark for expropriation, but this hardly seems apparent in any of the public criticism of the Act by Ms Dreyer.
Her very last stand was to lament the lack of protection the Bill provided against the incompetence of the state – an expectation so unrealistic of any piece of draft legislation that it may just as well be accepted as code for something yet to be deciphered. Would records of the Portfolio Committee reports show that Ms Dreyer indeed saw this as a fundamental concern, or is it something that the Solidarity-organisations may have whispered in her ear?
It may be understandable that the DA’s federal structures under then leader Tony Leon may have given instruction to Dreyer to maintain relationships with Solidarity and its associated network of organisations. However, I have to admit that the extraordinary commitment with which she seized this opportunity perplexed me even then as I enthusiastically laboured in the party’s Parliamentary research office almost a decade ago.
The DA would now do both potential and existing voters a big favour by providing clarity over its mandate to Dreyer in this regard and its general position to Solidarity and its related organisations and the positions they propagate.