Politics

Meet the new face of the AWB

By Branko Brkic 6 April 2010

His name is Steyn van Ronge. He is a third generation Free State farmer, and now the permanent new leader of the Afrikaaner Weerstandsbeweging. His job: to implement a security plan to keep farmers safe, and organise a white homeland.

The AWB leadership on Tuesday unexpectedly announced a new leader had been appointed to replace Eugene Terre’Blanche. No meeting of members and no voting; nor is the appointment temporary. Henceforth Steyn van Ronge will lead the movement.

Van Ronge would give no title other than “mister” and “leader”. His mandate, he says, is to continue implementation and expand a security policy through which the AWB will prevent further farm killings. He would give no details of the plan, other than to say the movement intends to work within the law.

Nor would he provide membership numbers. Throughout the last days members of the media have been asking how many members the AWB has. Some officials have answered “in the millions” while privately confessing that to be untrue. Van Ronge would say only that thousands of new membership applications are being received daily.

Van Ronge is 55 and farms mostly cattle near Zastron in the Free State. He has held various positions within the AWB since joining in 1988, most notably that of under-leader and chairman under Terre’Blanche.

He has two daughters, one a medical doctor and the other studying towards becoming an advocate. He hopes his only son, who is a student at the University of the Free State, will some day take over the farm – if conditions in the country allow.

“I’m still positive, but my advice to my children was that they should qualify themselves professionally, so that they can leave the country if there are dramatic changes,” he says.

His son is not an active AWB member, he says, because that would be difficult on campus. “I believe he supports me,” Van Ronge says.

Terre’Blanche will be buried at his family farm near Ventersdorp on Friday after a church service in the town. The AWB has predicted that thousands of supporters will arrive for the event.

By Phillip de Wet

Photo: The Daily Maverick

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