Unanswered letters & the second Great Trek

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Following on from Breyten Breytenbach’s remarkable piece in Rapport, where he lambasted the current South African regime and called for another, ex-foreign minister Pik Botha has responded to Breytenbach.

Here is an extract of what Pik Botha’s said:

“Die wit mense en in besonder die Afrikaners staan voor strawwe uitdagings.

Eerstens moet die onderskeid tussen “wit” en “bruin” Afrikaners
verdwyn. Gelukkig is dit besig om te gebeur.

Tweedens moet die verbitterdes in ons geledere oorreed word om saam te
trek in die nuwe groot trek wat op ons wag, naamlik om die land se
swart regering te oortuig dat ons mekaar nodig het om ons land te laat

Dit klink vir my dít is ’n kampanje wat Breyten Breytenbach in gedagte
het. As dit so is, het hy my volle ondersteuning.

En moontlik is dit ’n debat waaraan wyle Chris Louw ook sou wou
deelgeneem het. ”

Trans: “Whites but in particular Afrikaners are facing huge challenges.

But first the differentiation between white and brown Afrikaners should
disappear. Luckily this is starting to happen.

Secondly, the bitter amongst us should be convinced to join in the
second great trek that is awaiting us, that is to convince the black
government that we need each other to make this country work.

It sounds to me that this is the campaign that Breyten Breytenbach has
in mind. If true, it has my full support.

Possibly this is a debate that Chris Louw would also have wanted to
take part in.”

Earlier in the piece Pik hints at and basically accuses FW de Klerk of not following his suggestions during the negotiations. Botha claims he wanted guarantees for Afrikaners but De Klerk fobbed this off by suggesting that the Bill or rights in the Constitution can deal with his concerns.

Botha also claims that in 2007 he, De Klerk and a few ex ministers had tried to contact the ANC.

After speaking at the trade Union Solidarity in 2007 and saying that there would not have been a new constitution if the ANC had been open about how they would apply affirmative action, Rapport published a front page “The ANC lied to us“.

Two days later Thabo Mbeki delivered via courier a 7 page letter, who according to Botha contained strong and crass language. Mbeki disagreed vehemently.

On the 19th of July Botha sent Mbeki a six page fax, where he claims he said:

“You know that we could not have agreed to a process based solely on racial demographic representivity … You also know that internationally, affirmative action is based on a time frame.”

Botha claims he asked in the fax whether he and De Klerk could meet Mbeki. They never received an answer.

Not long after Mbeki was unseated at Polokwane.

In August 2008 Botha claims he called De Klerk and told him he is very concerned about the ANC’s pronouncements on land reform, affirmative action, the judicial system and other issues that Botha felt went against the Constitution. This besides crime problem and the lack of service delivery.

Botha suggested that a number of politicians that were involved in the negotiations from 1990 to 1994 should meet the new leadership of the ANC, to tell them of of their concerns, and to tell them what contributions they could make to help solve these issues.

FW agreed. Their team would consist of Dawie de Villiers, Roelf Meyer, Leon Wessels, Chris Fismer and Botha.

They met twice in Cape Town where they discussed their agenda.

On the 3rd of September 2008 FW sent a letter to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, where a meeting was sought with the ANC’s leadership.

This was followed up with enquiries on the 24th of October 2008 and the 11th of November 2008. Also messages were left with Mantashe’s secretary as to when they can expect an answer.

By January 2009 no answer had been received, and it was decided that in the light of the coming elections not to send any further requests.

Until this day there has been no reaction to FW’s letter says Pik.

What do I make of all this?

1) It’s weird that none of the South African English language press have reported on Breyten’s article, and none yet on Pik’s. The suicide of Chris Louw did get some attention from publications like Politicsweb. So why the lack of coverage on the much bigger stories of Pik’s letters and Breyten’s clarion call?

Any regrouping of Afrikaners would potentially threaten the Democratic Alliance and the English language press is scared any coverage would only encourage it further. It is a World Cup Year after all and any major social unrest could upset a massive apple cart.

It’s either that, or the Afrikaans press is really not considered of import at all.

2) Is this a storm in a tea cup? I don’t think so.

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Related deployments:

  1. Thabo Mbeki – bookending failure with two great speeches
  2. Chris Louws death and what it may mean
  3. Would you consider living in a Volkstaat?

4 Responses

  1. Beebop says:

    Why Afrikaners are the only little group that needs special consideration, I’ve never understood. And listening to Pik, I just dunno . . .

    I’ve never met a ‘brown’ Afrikaner in my life to wants be part of the Afrikaner volk, but so many Afrikaners seem to write about this desire.

    To have expected the ANC negotiators to include a clause to protect Afrikaner rights would have been a lot to ask even of Jesus.

    We’re all protected under the constitution. The conversation should be about making the constitution work.

  2. Kameraad Mhambi says:

    Considering our recent history, it won’t surprise me at all if ‘brown’ or ‘coloured’ Afrikaners don’t want to be part of the Afrikaner volk.

    But that does not mean that Afrikaners have to shut the door on them. Which is very important.

    As to your first point “Why Afrikaners are the only little group that needs special consideration”.

    I think its fair to say that the majority of Afrikaners thought exactly that. They in the safety of the constitution they could give up on yearnings for special consideration.

    But trust is the new dispensation has eroded. Not a surprise really considering the last 10 years

    Beebop, you say we are all protected by the constitution. Do you really believe that you are?

    As for Afrikaners or whites in general the situation is only slightly more dire. In what sense? In the sense that they are not seen as African.

    But for other South African the situation is not great either. The difference perhaps then is the level of expectations?

  3. beebop says:

    If I were living in South Africa I’d be more worried about being a woman than being an Afrikaner. Perhaps it is expectation or feeling entitled.
    Dreaming about a volkstaat is nostalgia for the old days.

  4. Kameraad Mhambi says:

    I strongly disagree that “Dreaming about a volkstaat is nostalgia for the old days.”

    The South African right has up to now not been enthusiastic about the idea at all. And so has middleclass whites, precisely because it will end white’s privileged position. Have a look at the map of the volkstaat, is that in Sandton? Is it on top of gold mines? Is it on fertile soil?

    On what I have heard of Oranja it is quite unlike anything that resembles apartheid SA.