In more electioneering happenings, the African National Congress and Freedom Front Plus had respective coronary events this past week about the Democratic Alliance’s decision to remove a statue of apartheid instigator, Hendrik Verwoerd, from the Midvaal municipality’s offices.
Midvaal is a “mainly Afrikaner” community (according to SAPA) south of Gauteng which is governed by the DA. The back story is that the ANC had been deeply upset by the fact that a bust of the man who conceptualised and implemented South Africa’s own brand of separation of the races, remained prominently displayed at the Midvaal municipality’s offices.
In this respect, I agree that it is ridiculous to keep a monument to that hateful man displayed anywhere public, except perhaps in a history museum. And yes, the DA’s decision to remove the bust just a couple of weeks before municipal elections does smack a little of a deliberate move, rather than having finally grown disgusted by Verwoerd’s leering over the democratically elected council the DA runs … efficiently, at that, I read.
But you know, so what? This is part and parcel of electioneering. This shit happens every day, everywhere, and it adds to debate. One would assume (and hope) that the DA is under no illusion that this kind of action will convert voters. Fortunately, it has more behind its campaign than that.
The ANC’s reaction, as conveyed by its spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, that this “[is] yet another confirmation that the DA shares apartheid sentiments and philosophies, which for years racially polarised the South African society… ,” is not worth considering, apart from saying that his remarks betray the rampant dishonesty and fear his party is trying to hide.
What *did* disappoint and anger me was the FF+ response to this event, despite it being totally in line with its ideology and thus not unexpected. While both that party and the ANC accused the DA of trying to garner black votes by means of the removal of the bust of this foul Apartheid icon ahead of the elections, the FF+ went on to moan about how the act was an affront to Afrikaners. FF+ spokesman, Jaco Mulder, said: “But the DA will have to explain this step to the mainly Afrikaner community of Midvaal, with whose mandate it runs the municipality,” and that this move indicated that the DA was “was no friend of the Afrikaner”.
Mulder’s assertion, then, is that a large, multifaceted, heterogeneous group of people thinks, acts and believes in the identical set of values. To him, it is unthinkable that individuals comprising a demographic group linked by the facts that they speak the same mother tongue, are members of the same race and may share some cultural similarities, might differ about whether or not to respect the memory of a racist, anti-Semitic lunatic whose policies all but economically devastated the majority of South Africans.
Mulder assumes that all Afrikaners respect Verwoerd and thereby, Apartheid. His contention that all Afrikaners are the same frighteningly echoes his buddy Verwoerd’s assertion of the same concept as applied to blacks.
This is utter lunacy. So too is the thought that removing this statue might swing a substantial block of voters.