S African whites in anxious mood tribes stand on their rights



These are blue days for South Africa's white tribes. Rocketing crime rates, new hiring policies aimed at darkening the complexion of white institutions, and the promotion of black languages on television and radio are only some of the developments putting white backs up. But whereas many English-speakers are emigrating, Afrikaners are demonstrating.

Many feel that the government of Nelson Mandela has been trampling on their rights. Underlying their aggrieved mood are feelings of confusion and anxiety over their future, as well as a sense of betrayal by their own leaders.

Their quandary was underlined by an article in yesterday's Rapport, an Afrikaans-language Sunday newspaper, which said that the National Party (NP) - the organisation which created the apartheid system - was ready to dissolve itself. According to the paper, the NP does not intend to disappear, but is set to reform itself with both a new name and new structure which in effect will render the old party moribund.

The party has discussed the possibility of changing its name for months. Those favouring a name change have argued that the party needs to break with the past if it hopes to widen its appeal and challenge Mr Mandela's African National Congress (ANC).

Hence a new organisation, calling itself the "Foundation for Equality Before the Law" - a "civic movement", campaigning to defend Afrikaner rights. On Saturday, it convened a gathering of Afrikaners to air their grievances, which included the government's affirmative action employment policies and the prosecution of white security force officials for apartheid- era crimes. Of particular concern was the perceived attack on the Afrikaans language which has been demoted from its equal prominence with English, the country's lingua franca.

Whereas Afrikaner rallies during apartheid drew tens of thousands of volk, Saturday's in front of Pretoria's Pioneer Museum barely attracted 1,000. Yet, the meeting was important because it offered evidence of rising discontent with the government of Mr Mandela, even among moderate Afrikaners.

The speeches - which all focused on the raw deal Afrikaners believed they were getting - were notable for mild rhetoric when compared with the threats of all-out war issued by pro-apartheid whites in the run-up to the 1994 elections.

"We want to play a constructive role and we accept change, but we want to put it very plainly: we will not allow our rights to be trampled or our people to be hijacked," said General Johan van der Merwe, a retired police commissioner.

But the moderate tone was undermined by the failure of the Afrikaners to bridge differences among themselves. The rally got off to an inauspicious start when right-wingers tried to set fire to South Africa's new rainbow- coloured flag, which they said was a symbol of black oppression of Afrikaners. Rally organisers stepped in and grabbed the flag back after a short scuffle.

If the Afrikaners harboured any hope that Mr Mandela might be moved by their display, it was quashed only hours later when the President met Afrikaner intellectuals.

Mr Mandela accused them of seeking to maintain their "unjustly privileged position" and warned that unless they embraced the new dispensation, they would find themselves "on the political sidelines" for ever.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments