Before we begin, I would like to empathise that I do not support a reintroduction of Apartheid, and that the system of Apartheid – Europeans imposing their will on Africans in their own country via means of racial discrimination – was indefensible.
That being said, I sympathise with the struggles faced by the Boer living in South Africa, and I support the attempts of the Boer to create their own Volkstaat (‘people-state’ in Afrikaans) in South Africa.
First, I should distinguish between Boer and Afrikaner. Boer, meaning ‘farmer’ in Afrikaans, is today a political term used to describe Afrikaner who seek to establish their own ethnostate in South Africa.
South Africa first gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1931. Over a decade later, in 1948, the National Party was elected to power. They deepened racial segregation between different racial groups that had been imposed by the British and the Dutch settlers. Under this new system, which would come to be known as Apartheid, races were divided up into black, white and coloured, and were assigned rights and privileges accordingly.
After South Africa became a republic in 1961, the Apartheid system continued, despite South Africa being predominately a black nation. Inevitably, this lead to violence, as anti-Apartheid activists of all political stripes, from the socialist Azanian People’s Organisation, to the social democratic African National Congress, to the black nationalist Pan-Africanist Congress, all engaged in low-intensity warfare and urban sabotage against the government.
Following decades of international boycotts, nuclear proliferation and nearly 21,000 deaths from internal violence against the regime, the ruling South African National Party capitulated and entered negotiations with the ANC to bring about an end to Apartheid. One of the most important negotiators was Nelson Mandela, an African Nation Congress party leader and communist who had been a political prisoner for 27 years during the Apartheid system until 1990.
Negotiations first opened with the first meeting of CODESA, or Convention for a Democratic South Africa. Important political players from all across South Africa were invited, of all political stripes. However, participation was not universal, and the official white opposition, the Conservative Party, refused to enter negotiations. Following their refusal, they won three successive by-elections.
After a whites-only referendum in 1992 showed overwhelming support for the continuation of negotiations, CODESA II, or the second CODESA session, began in May 1992. However, negotiations collapsed following the withdrawal of the African National Congress by Mandela in response to the Boipatong massacre in June 1992, when 45 residents were killed by the Inkatha Freedom Party, a Zulu political party and the main political rival of the ANC, with the aim of disrupting negotiations.
Following the breakdown of talks, the ANC staged several protests and street marches, culminating in the Bisho massacre of September 1992. Negotiations from thereon were dominated by the ANC and the National party. Following several breakthroughs, including the ‘sunset clause’ which proposed a snap election with full participation from non-white voters.
In 1994, the first multiracial elections were held and Nelson Mandela was duly elected with 62% of the vote.
As fascinating as this history is, the aftermath has not been pretty. Under majority rule, South Africa has suffered from both rising unemployment and exploding crime rates.
Take homicide, for example. Although reliable figures for the pre-Apartheid era have become difficult to obtain, the data still shows that in the years leading up to Apartheid and the years after it, the murder rate in South Africa has exploded. Official reports show an average murder rate of 24,206 in the post-1994 South Africa, compared with a murder rate of 7,036 per year in Apartheid. This must be considered alongside the fact that up to half of all murders in South Africa go unreported – Interpol puts the post-1994 number at 47,882 murders every year.
Even more troubling is the seeming lack of ability or interest of the South African justice system in enforcing the law. While murder rates have skyrocketed, the murder conviction rate has barely changed. Both of these points are underlined in the graph below:
Crime is not the only concern. While unemployment is South Africa had been growing since the mid-80s, Apartheid has seen numbers rise to never-before-seen rates. Amongst blacks, who have been the hardest hit, unemployment has nearly doubled. For ‘coloured’ and Indian/Asians, unemployment has increased by nearly a half, and whites, who were the least hardest hit, have still suffered and nine percent increase in unemployment.
The non-white increase in unemployment has occurred despite white displacement in all skill sectors of employment.
And once again, black unemployment has increased despite the implementation of theBlack Economic Empowerment scheme. A vicious form of affirmative action, the BEE is a nationwide requirement for employers to racially discriminate against whites in favour of minorities who were disadvantaged by the Apartheid system, primarily Blacks. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Rank racial discrimination has still not stopped black unemployment in South Africa from exploding – All it has done is lower the quality of life for white South Africans.
White South African farmers have faced a new threat in recent years, which is an ongoing trend of farm attacks, where assailants converge on isolated farms in the countryside to murder, steal and rape. These attacks have reached epidemic proportions – 1,747 murders and 3,542 attacks occurred between 1990 and 2015. While there is no actual evidence that the attacks are racially motivated, this has not stopped them disproportionately affecting the Afrikaner community in South Africa. In 2003,only 38.4% of all those killed in farm attacks are non-white. This means that 51.6% of all victims of the farm attacks are white, even though whites made up 8.9% of the population in 2011.
The perception of race relations between the white Afrikaners and the black Africans differs greatly. In 2015, a poll was conducted by the Institute for Race Relations to compare the attitudes of different south African races. Some of the results of the survey have been reproduced as a series of graphs below. For space-saving purposes, only the results for whites and blacks have been included. If you want more information, you can follow the link above.
Black Africans generally see race relations as having improved, while whites see race relations as having deteriorated.
Blacks in South Africa are shown to be far more supportive of affirmative action policies (such as the BEE) than whites – no surprise, considering these policies greatly benefit them.
The political scene in South Africa has been tense as of late. The rise of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical pan-African Marxist quasi-military political party who achieved breakthrough success in the 2014 General Election where they achieved the highest increase in votes of any party, becoming the third largest party in the country, should be of concern to Afrikaners. As many see the ANC as corrupt and past its prime, the EFF provides an attractive alternative for black socialists and communists, which means it has a large support base to grow on. Julius Malema, the current president and ‘commander in chief’ of the EFF has been outspoken about his views on the Afrikaner, going as far as to sing ‘kill the boer‘ onstage. While his party is currently very much consigned to the fringe of South African politics, a deterioration in the economic condition could easily catapult him into power.
What can be done? Both to ensure racial harmony in South Africa, and to prevent the rise of extremist groups like the EFF? Segregate. With no Afrikaner to scapegoat, loathe or otherwise, groups promoting fascism and racial hatred – both black and white – will disappear.
The location of a theoretical Volkstaat has been a great source of controversy. Whites are not concentrated in a particular part of South Africa, and consequently this method of determining borders is out. Another, more realistic method of determining where the border should lie is simply carving out a segment of South Africa that is sparsely populated, and declaring it an Afrikaner homeland. While this method would resolve the dispute more easily, it does not truly recognize the immense contributions the Afrikaners have made to South Africa.
How popular would such a Volkstaat be? In 2010 the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld surveyed 11,019 white Afrikaners, asking them if they would move to a Volkstaat if one was created. The responses were telling:
- 56% (6,189) would move there
- 27% (2,936) would not move there
- 17% (1,911) were unsure
While newspaper surveys are never the most accurate source of public opinion, the sample size alone shows significant demand for a white homeland in South Africa. It might not be possible to achieve this goal through election – the black majority will always crush white interests at the polls – but instead through campaigning and raising awareness of issues affecting the Afrikaner, and highlighting why an independent state would be the best long-term solution, as this article attempts to do.