Friday, 08 March 2019

By Mbulelo Ketye, AZAPO National Deputy Secretary General


The pending equality court case brought by Nelson Mandela Foundation against the use of the old racist South African flag must be seen as a positive move, and supported by all freedom loving South Africans. The counter move by Afri-Forum, a right wing body of fascist Afrikaners who at every moment of the South African dispensation of 1994, have continued to oppose vehemently every effort to transform South Africa by using our courts to cover their inherently racist attitude towards the Black majority.

Theirs is a concerted effort to remain lily white in a sea of Black majority by fighting to preserve everything that symbolises white oppression over the years in this new dispensation. The list of their fight for these preservation is long but some of the them are affirmative action in places of work, qoutas in sport, Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in educational institutions and least but not last keeping Pretoria as a capital city all in the name of heritage and freedom of expression.

Taking a cursory look at the old racist South African flag may help even the uninformed as to why it must be relegated to the dustbin of history. The first form of invasion of our country took place in April 1652 when expelled group Dutch/Netherland landed in the shores of what is now known as the Cape Province arriving in three ships. They were then followed by what is called historically the “British white settlers of 1820”. These arrivals resulted in many skirmishes between the settlers and the indigenous Afrikan people lasting over what historians called “100 years of wars of resistance” and one of the most recent of such wars was the Bambhatha rebellion of 1906.

At the point of slowing down of these resistance, the white settlers went on to form first the union of South Africa in 1910 and then the republic of South Africa on 31 May 1961 resulting in the racist flag that now will soon be a discussion of the equality court whether it must be banned or not. The flag has its meaning and origin in the respective countries of origin of the settlers namely Netherlands and Britain. The colours Orange, White and Blue stripes are the official colours of Netherlands where Dutch people now Afrikaners came from. The union jack in the flag represents the British flag. The centre part of it is the flag of the Orange Free State boer republic and the right one is that of the Transvaal boer republic. It is therefore a symbol of conquest and oppression as envisaged over the years until brought down in 1994.

For its entire existence the flag has been mud by controversy. Shortly after its election victory in 1948 the National Party of the Afrikaners in parliament introduced an amendment to change the flag and they lost the vote. Again in 1966 their prime minister John Voster introduced the same amendment in parliament in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of the republic due in 1971 and it was again defeated. The attempts by the National Party was to remove in the flag what they called “Blood Stain” in reference to the British union jack in the flag. To them that part reminded them the oppression they suffered under British rule. At its twentieth anniversary in 1981 Black Students in the entire country called for the removal of the flag and as the symbol of resistance against it, the flag was burnt in all public protests. In 1984 in Soweto  AZASM, the student wing of AZAPO in rejecting white racism burnt the flag protesting the visit to Soweto by wife of PW Botha, Elize Botha and that of Piet Koornhof, Lulu Koornhof.

Therefore, to AZAPO the removal or banning this flag to the dustbin of history is both historical and forward-looking. In all its documents AZAPO has called for the recon-quest of our land, the abolishment of the old constitution, the Bantustan system and all other racist institutions in pursuance of a unitary state based on a universal adult suffrage to all.

The old South African flag therefore is in-sharp contrast to the norms and values AZAPO upholds. The old flag is not a symbol of free expression or association rather the one that seeks to promote racism, fascism and is inimical to social justice, stability and progress of the country.  It would be instructive to remind Afri-Forum about the words of wisdom written in 1987 by the late Publicity Secretary of AZAPO Muntu Myeza that appeared in the Sowetan-FOCUS that “Conservative Party represent a group of whites paralysed by fear of the future. They have internalised centuries of naked racism and barbaric ‘baasskap’ “. AZAPO believes the words are true today for Afri-Forum. One of the unwavering principles of AZAPO is Anti-Racism. It is in this regard that we differ vehemently with Afri-Forum unapologetically and would therefore call upon them to join forces of change rather than be a spanner in the wheel to slow down the inevitable. Adios.

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