South Africa will only be able to move forward if there is mutual respect

Dr Pieter Groenewald

For South Africa to be a prosperous and progressive country, there needs to be mutual respect. Respect for people as individuals, respect for the differences between people and respect for all the differences in culture, history and language.

An extract from the Preamble of South Africa’s Constitution says it well: “We, the people of South Africa … Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity …”

I want to convey the following message to the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) loud and clear: the FF Plus wants to join hands and co-operate to build a better future for us all, not a better past. As they say in isiZulu: “Ha ghe si bhambisane. I sandla siya ghesana.”

That being said, I also want to add that I am an Afrikaner and a child of the land of Africa. Afrikaners and white people want to contribute to a better future for all in South Africa. We can help to build a better country, but then there needs to be mutual respect.

At present, Afrikaans is under attack. In our schools and in our universities. In spite of the fact that our Constitution stipulates that everyone is entitled to mother-tongue education.

There is, however, no mutual respect to speak of when the Gauteng MEC for Education (Panyaza Lesufi) keeps painting Afrikaans as a racial issue, as if Afrikaans education is equal to white privilege, or when he takes action against schools that are already multiracial.

Sixty percent of the Afrikaans-speaking population in the country is coloured. His actions do not convey mutual respect, but rather raises questions.

In his State of the Nation Address, the president placed a lot of emphasis on job creation, particularly for the youth. Amongst other things, he said: “We are building a country where a person’s prospects are determined by their own initiative and hard work, and not by the colour of their skin, place of birth, gender, language or income of their parents.” And I fully agree.

The reality, however, is that Affirmative Action (AA) and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) are depriving young white people of jobs, bursaries and opportunities due to the colour of their skin. Is it fair for a young man or woman, who was born in or after 1994, to suffer prejudice in the new dispensation due to AA?

I am of the opinion that there needs to be a cut-off for AA. The number of black students that are presently graduating from universities is more than double the number of white students. If we want to promote mutual respect and grow the economy, the criterion for appointments must be merit, and not skin colour.

Concerning land expropriation without compensation, I want to let the president know that simply adopting the principle will already have an adverse effect on the economy and food security.

It begs the question of what the president wants to achieve with expropriation. If the idea is to simply give people land, then he must say so. It must, however, be kept in mind that giving people land will not automatically make them rich.

The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform admitted that 90% of the existing projects that were supposed to establish emerging black farmers failed. In addition, 93% of all successful land claimants did not want the land, but the money.

The FF Plus rejects land expropriation without compensation because it applies to all property, whether it is a farm or in a town or city. It will have a detrimental effect on the economy and it will deter potential investors from investing in South Africa.

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