Today we have our first interview of your project. we had the pleasure of interviewing the wellknown deputy CEO afriforum – Ernst Roets.
First of all, AfriForum is a non-governmental organisation, registered as a non-profit company, with the aim of protecting the rights of minorities. While the organisation functions on the internationally recognised principle of the protection of minorities, AfriForum has a specific focus on the rights of Afrikaners as a community living on the southern tip of the African continent.
Ernst Roets was born in Pretoria and has a bachelor in law in the university of this city with another course in international law. In the university he was member of the of student representative council later he was national chairman of solidarity youth(a trade union that protects the rights of workers with connections to the afrikaners) and national chairman of Afriforum jeug(youth afriforum) .
Afrikaner Way(AW): First we like to thank you for conceding this interview to us
Ernst Roets(ER) Thank you for the opportunity.
(AW) You are Deputy CEO for afriforum, what exactly do you do?
(ER) I am in charge of communications, training and youth affairs. My job includes coordinating of these functions with the various sub departments, which are: media liaison, marketing, electronic media, video production, AfriForum Youth and training. Other than these responsibilities, I am also a spokesperson for the organization and coordinator for some of our campaigns, which include the campaigns against farm murders and for the promotion of media freedom
(AW)When you joined afriforum youth?
(ER) I joined Solidarity Youth in 2005 when I helped with the establishment of the Solidarity Youth branch at the University of Pretoria. Solidarity is a trade union that functions as an affiliate of AfriForum. AfriForum was founded in 2006. In 2007 I became the national chairperson of Solidarity Youth and in 2008 a joint decision was taken that Solidarity Youth should be re-launched as AfriForum Youth, because of the fact that our project was more aimed at civil rights than labor related issues. I thus became national chairperson of AfriForum Youth in 2008. In 2010 I was promoted to deputy CEO of AfriForum.
(AW)Afriforum members are only afrikaners or could be of other origins?
(ER) AfriForum is a civil rights organization that places emphasis on the protection of minority rights. Coming from an Afrikaner background, we do place a particular focus on the protection of Afrikaners to the extent that such protection doesn’t amount to infringement of the rights of others. We are however not an exclusive organization and anyone who agrees with the content of our civil rights charter is encouraged to join.
(AW) Until today, which do you consider the greatest achievement of afriforum?
(ER) We have been blessed to achieve many successes in the last couple of years. The greatest would probably the winning of the hate speech court case against former ANC youth leader, Julius Malema for singing “shoot the Boer” at public gatherings (“Boer” referring to Afrikaners). After the court case, Malema and the ANC filed an appeal, but the matter was resolved when the ANC settled to refrain from singing the song again. We have also had large successes against the Zimbabwean government’s violating of the rights of South African citizens farming Zimbabwe and have prevented the government from changing the name of South Africa’s capitol city, Pretoria. AfriForum Youth also participates in student council elections on more than one campus and has won every election in which it participated.
(AW)How the afriforum youth sees the today anti-white and mainly anti-afrikaner attacks? Do you think that could be worse after the dead of Nelson Mandela?
(ER) We do experience an increase in racism in South Africa. To a large extent, this can be traced back to irresponsible statements of prominent leaders in the governing ANC. The classic example is that of Malema stating on the campaign trail that “all whites are criminals and should be treated as such”. He said that, while the state president sat right next to him. He was never disciplined for this statement and it was never condemned by the ANC. It is reasonable to believe that racial tension will continue to increase after the death of Mandela, as has happened since the start of the presidency of Jacob Zuma.
(AW)There is space for the Boere Afrikaner nation in South Africa?
(ER) Afrikaners do not view themselves as Europeans and have made South Africa their home, the same way that various so-called “African” peoples who have emigrated from countries north of South Africa to this country. We are just as “African” as any other group living in this country, despite the fact that our former state president, Thabo Mbeki as referred to Afrikaners as “colonialists of a special type”.
(AW)According to the letter of United Nations(UN) on self-determination all nations have the right to sovereignty and self-government without external influence. Do you agree? What is the position of afriforum on the idea of volkstaat?
(ER) Self-determination is a basic international law and is even entrenched in the South African constitution. Our position is that it would be premature to campaign for the de jure recognition of a territorial state for any grouping if such a de facto territory didn’t exist. Also, AfriForum’s members live in South Africa and are confronted with South African realities on a daily basis. Therefore, our focus is on addressing these realities by standing up for the rights of our members.
(AW)Do you think that the Affirmative action promotes racism?
(ER) Affirmative action could work if the way it is implemented actually addresses poverty. AA, as it is implemented in South African undoubtedly promotes racism, as it creates a climate in which it is acceptable to categorize people according to their race and the treat different races in different manners. The court case of Renate Barnard, the police woman who have been denied promotion on the base of her race is evident thereof. The current policy makes no reference to social economic circumstances and simply states that black Africans should receive preferential treatment (by implication not even considering that the black person receiving preferential treatment might be a member of the black elite, while the white person who is discriminated against might be homeless).
(AW) Afriforum is looking for the eradication of hate speech against minority groups, Can we consider the afriforum a anti-racist organization?
(ER) The hate speech campaign is only one of the many campaigns that we are involved with. We regard it as a compliment if we are described as such.
(AW)Do you think that begins to exist by some European and European parties some support for the situation of Afrikaners and other whites in South Africa?
(ER) I have visited a few countries in the last couple of years and my impression is clearly that there is a growing realization that the ANC of today is not compatible with the iconic image of Nelson Mandela. Also, that there is a growing tendency to consider the concerns of Afrikaners with more gravity.
(AW)How can afrikaners living abroad or foreigners help the afriforum ?
(ER) There are three steps that Afrikaners living abroad (or anyone for that matter) can support AfriForum:
- Subscribe to our Hot-mail weekly newsletter and forward it to your contacts.
- Follow us on Twitter (we tweet mostly in Afrikaans, but do make a point to tweet in English as well).
- Write to your local media institution about the situation in South Africa
(AW) Do you Believe that instills in whites and Afrikaners a guilt for apartheid?
(ER) Young Afrikaners are increasingly saying that they are not prepared to “apologize” for apartheid, because it is a political system with which they had nothing to do. I believe the the question of white guild is becoming less relevant the further we move away from 1994, the year in which Mandela was elected president. The children who were born in 1994 are now at university and can certainly not be blamed for the “wrongs of the past”. Also, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify discriminatory affirmative action policies enforced on people who have lived their entire lives in the new South Africa.