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AfriForum’s ‘surrogate’ Kaapse Forum revives the ghosts of apartheid’s Tricameral Parliament


Karl Cloete is the former Numsa Deputy General Secretary. He writes in his personal capacity. (Photo: Netwerk24)

The reactionary ideas of the newfound right-wing political parties have found resonance among a cross-section of the population, particularly the community that Heindrich Wyngaard seeks to represent in the Kaapse Forum.

It was with much horror, yet little surprise, that I read about the formation of the Kaapse Forum (Cape Forum) in Rapport this past Sunday, 3 April 2022.

For me, and I am sure for many other non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and class-conscious activists, the ghosts of 1652 and 1948 came back because the monster of colonialism and apartheid had been buried in too shallow a grave. This is what in my view defines the birth of Kaapse Forum as a surrogate of AfriForum.

When the United Democratic Front (UDF) was launched on 20 August 1983, it coincided with the apartheid government’s intention to establish a Tricameral Parliament to house “coloureds” and Indians in the white Parliament of South Africa, to the exclusion of Africans. The demand for one person, one vote had long been rejected by the National Party which propagated the separate-development ideology of Bantustans. Hence the very noble liberation Struggle fought by the majority in South Africa.

Wikipedia has a very apt description of what the Tricameral Parliament was meant to be in apartheid South Africa:

“The Tricameral Parliament, officially the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, was the legislature of South Africa between 1984 to 1994, established by the South African Constitution of 1983, which gave a limited political voice to the country’s coloured and Indian population groups.”

The struggle against the Tricameral parliament as a tokenistic, multiracial, apartheid-engineered political dispensation gave impetus to the struggle for a non-racial society. In this the UDF played a leading role in the Mass Democratic Movement.

There can be no doubt that the UDF was the greatest expression of a non-racial struggle against the evil and racist apartheid regime. In this regard many of us believe that the UDF should never have been disbanded, but that opinion is the basis for another article on another day.

The gist of the Rapport article

Apparently, AfriForum gave birth to the Kaapse Forum. This much is evident from the Rapport front page of 3 March which had a picture of Kallie Kriel, the CEO of AfriForum, smiling next to the Kaapse Forum’s Heindrich Wyngaard.

Whereas AfriForum was established to fight for the rights of white Afrikaners, its surrogate Kaapse Forum is said to be doing the same for coloured people. In this regard, Wyngaard was appointed the executive chairperson of the Kaapse Forum, although it is not clear by whom.

Among the aims and objectives espoused by the Kaapse Forum, as the Rapport article would have it, is that this new entity would in essence join the right-wing chorus for a federal-type system of governance in South Africa in general, and the Western Cape in particular.

I have no idea where Wyngaard would have been when the UDF was established or what politics shaped his thinking, but it seems that the empowerment of coloured people is code for separate development along the lines of the racial categorisation engineered by the National Party.

It is also fascinating that Wyngaard finds himself in the company of Kriel who, in a Radio 702 interview, declared:

“You cannot equate crimes against humanity with apartheid as there was no mass killing of people.”

All of a sudden it is of no concern to Wyngaard that apartheid was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations. How else would he explain his association with an organisation and a man who believe there were no mass killings under apartheid?

If we were to give Wyngaard the benefit of the doubt, which I certainly cannot do, there might well be a sense that this “bruin ou” wants to bring about liberation for “bruin mense”. The irony of this type of argument is the fact that in South Africa poverty is all black, inequality is all black and unemployment is largely black. It cannot escape our knowledge that South Africa is the most unequal society in the world and that the ANC’s neoliberal, capitalistic policies have deepened the crisis for all black people in South Africa, save for the small parasitic black elite.

Where are we heading with the right-wing drift in South Africa?

In the recent past we have seen a worrying right-wing shift in South Africa’s political trajectory.

The 2021 local government elections demonstrated a worrying increase in electoral support for conservative and ethno-nationalist politics. Regrettably, the reactionary ideas of the newfound right-wing political parties have found resonance among a cross-section of the population, particularly the community that Wyngaard seeks to represent in the Kaapse Forum.

It is now clear for everyone to see that South Africa is producing and reproducing the kind of social decay we see today, right-wing demagogues and outright opportunists who are stoking fires of xenophobia, racism, homophobia and ethnic nationalism to divide the poor majority. This political tomfoolery is turning the poor against the poor while the beneficiaries of the right-wing drift in South Africa are smiling all the way to the bank in comfort and luxury.

For transparency’s sake, who was consulted to form the Kaapse Forum?

The South African Constitution promotes and guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of association. That is a given. In a class- and race-divided society such as ours, it nevertheless becomes important to ask two pertinent questions, for transparency’s sake:

In whose interest is this federalist agenda driven? What consultation was undertaken with communities so that there is a semblance of a mandate that the initiators carry, or is self-interest the hallmark of this initiative?

We who believe in a non-racial and united South Africa away from federalism and baasskap, can never be offended in this way.

We who believe in the return of the stolen land to its rightful owners and the return of the mineral wealth to the indigenous people of our land, refuse to be insulted by this initiative.

Hennie Ferrus, Nana Abrahams, Johnny Issel, Ashley Kriel, Anton Fransch and many other revolutionaries must be turning in their graves.

Not in my name. DM


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  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    This is unfortunately a heavily anti-white anti-western cape racist tirade. Unlike this post, this article is aired without moderation.

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