The role and place of the Afrikaans-speaking community in South African society
The Inclusive Society Institute expresses
its appreciation to the In Transformation
Initiative, who’s contribution has enabled the
implementation of the roundtable dialogues
reported on in this publication.
In support of efforts to promote social cohesion in South Africa, the
Inclusive Society Institute hosted a series of roundtable dialogues to reinforce
nation-building and reconciliation in the country. It forms part of the institute’s
broader efforts aimed at promoting a cohesive inclusive society. The roundtable
dialogues covered in this report relate to the institute’s engagement with the
Afrikaans-speaking community. The ongoing broader programme will also engage
the other minority communities of the country, and it will facilitate inter-community
dialogue aimed at building a common South African identity.
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Inclusive Society Institute
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
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Views expressed in this report do not necessarily represent the views of the
Inclusive Society Institute or those of their respective Board or Council members.
All records and findings included in this roundtable report, stem from the discussions that
took place during the social cohesion roundtable dialogues on the role and place of the
Afrikaans-speaking community, which were held in Cape Town on the 11th of February 2020
and Pretoria on the 18th of February 2020.
Setting the scene for the roundtable on the role and place of the Afrikaans-speaking community in South African society | Keith Khoza | Board Member of the Inclusive Society Institute
Purpose and objectives | Daryl Swanepoel | Chief Executive Officer of the Inclusive Society Institute Executive Summary | Roelf Meyer | Director, In Transformation Initiative
Social Cohesion survey
A message to the Afrikaans Community | Paul Mashatile | Treasurer General of the
African National Congress
Protecting the identity of the Coloured Community in South Africa | Dr Ruben Richards | Chairperson of the Ruben Richards Foundation
Inclusive economic growth key to social cohesion | Theo Vorster | Chief Executive Officer of
Summary of the open discussion: Working together to build on nation
Annexure A: Tabulated list of concerns
Annexure B: Action plan
Setting the scene for the dialogue with the Afrikaans-speaking community
Keith Khoza | Board Member of the Inclusive Society Institute
Mr Keith Khoza, a member of the Inclusive Society Institute’s Board, in his welcome remarks at the Pretoria dialogue, set the scene for the evening’s discussion.
He said that 1994 was a watershed year in this country, where we embarked on a journey to redefine ourselves as a people, as a nation, and as a new democracy. It came with all sorts of challenges, problems, and learning to co-exist and to embrace each other. Twenty-five years later, we are still walking that journey. We have not yet achieved all the milestones we have set ourselves – to be a vibrant nation and a formidable force in the rest of Africa. Clearly then, we have a huge task ahead of us and that is why conversations such as these being organised by the Inclusive Society Institute are so important.
As a diverse nation we need to continuously reach out in an effort to find each other and understand where we come from, where we are going, and to agree amongst ourselves what the legacy is that we wish to bequeath the generations to follow. We want a South Africa that can be proud of itself.
As an institute we are very aware of the many challenges that the nation is facing, including the important issue of social cohesion. That is why we believe these conversations to be crucial. At times, they may not be comfortable conversations to have, they are complex issues that need interrogation, analysis, understanding and compromise – not always easy content to deal with. But we have to do it.
This platform that the Inclusive Society Institute is creating, we trust, will make a meaningful contribution to reigniting our nation’s dream of an inclusive society that works for all who live in it, black and white.
Likewise, Ms Sue van der Merwe, the institute’s Chairperson, introduced the proceedings at the Cape Town dialogue.
Purpose and objectives
Daryl Swanepoel | Chief Executive Officer of the Inclusive Society Institute
The Inclusive Society Institute has identified social cohesion as a theme that needs critical attention in our country. It recognises that nation-building and reconciliation are vital components that are required to build a cohesive nation capable of providing growth and stability for society as a whole. The institute is concerned with a sense of dissipation of South Africa being the rainbow nation. It shares the view of the African National Congress (as expressed in the 2020 January the 8th Statement and by President Ramaphosa in his 2020 State of the Nation Address) that this national question deserves the urgent attention of South Africa’s policymakers.
With this in mind, the institute has embarked on an extensive programme to analyse the current state of demographic cohesion in the country. It intends to develop a set of proposals that could help guide public policymakers in their promotion of a common South Africanism that works for the nation as whole.
The institute is concerned with the negative narrative promoting racial intolerance and suggestions of alienation amongst certain sectors of the community. It believes that the tendency by some to stereotype communities based on the actions of certain individuals is harming the national project which requires all groups in society to work together as co-builders of the country.
This dialogue on the role and place of the Afrikaans-speaking community, forms part of the institute’s broader social cohesion programme. It seeks to test the attitudes and perceptions of this particular community as to their commitment and sense of belonging. It also aims to direct policymakers to the issues in society that drive a wedge between communities, and which need attention in pursuit of nation-building, reconciliation and the harnessing of all the country’s talents in pursuit of a common future that benefits society as a unit.
This phase of the social cohesion programme entails a series of roundtable discussions with the various minority communities in the country. It is important for policymakers to understand the psyche of these communities. The institute is, however, of the opinion that just as important an issue is the breaking down of the silo-effect and that much more effort is required around inter-community interaction aimed at promoting a better understanding of our fellow South Africans. To this end, the next phase of the programme will focus on these aspects.
Roelf Meyer | Director, In Transformation Initiative
The Inclusive Society Institute held two roundtable discussions on the role of the Afrikaans-speaking community in South Africa. The first was held on the 11th of February 2020 in Cape Town and the second on the 18th of February 2020 in Pretoria. Invited guests ranged from academics to community activists, private sector business leaders, members of the clergy, entrepreneurs, economists, members of the judiciary, government representatives, members of the media and film sector, civil society organisation representatives and educators.
The aim of the discussions was to achieve a better understanding of how the Afrikaans-speaking community views its place and role within the country, as well as their experiences in the promotion of social cohesion and national unity.
Additionally, the engagements also served as an opportunity to bring the concerns of citizens to the attention of national leadership and policymakers, and develop policy recommendations that will allow the Afrikaans-speaking community to fully contribute to the development of an inclusive society and economy in South Africa.
The roundtable discussions revealed areas of alignment, disagreement and lack of clarity pertaining to the definition of a South African’s national identity and how this is informed by the individual’s ethnic, linguistic, racial and cultural histories. Overall, participants expressed their commitment and hope that the issues plaguing South Africa can be resolved, despite echoes of frustration and scepticism regarding the political will from national leadership to consider the concerns and issues expressed.
All participants agreed that there is a need for pragmatic solutions in the country which can be achieved through collaborative efforts by government, the private sector and civil society. The Afrikaans-speaking community expressed a keen desire to be involved in these processes and believe they can also be providers of critical solutions to issues of unemployment, service delivery, training and skills transfer and economic growth.
However, most participants had the perception that there was a lack of political will to implement recommendations and to address the issues expressed through dialogue initiatives. This perception, be it real or not, continues to deepen the apathy among citizens. Consequently, this makes the mobilisation and motivation of citizens to contribute to the development of the country, that much more difficult.
It was generally expressed that members of the Afrikaans-speaking community, including both White and Coloured people, need to be involved and give their input in shaping the narrative around social cohesion, legislation, political participation and economic empowerment.
Several participants reiterated that the Afrikaans-speaking community is not one of homogeneity, nor one without its contradictions and complexities and should, therefore, also not be approached with the stereotypes that have historically been associated with this community.
Additional key issues that were expressed during both discussion sessions included the lack of clear and consistent leadership required to inspire citizens to reclaim their agency in contributing to national unity, nation building and social cohesion. The continued discrimination against minority groups as a result of divisive political messaging and exclusionary national polices was also a cause for concern.
Moreover, there are high levels of concern regarding the current economic climate. Given the uncertainty created by prolonged economic stagnation, urgent intervention and guidance from leadership will be necessary for any improvement in the current economic growth trajectory. The adverse effect of BBBEE and affirmative action was also emphasised by many of the participants. Some argued that the legislation surrounding these policies does not benefit the intended recipients and contributes to a lack of business growth, as well as the loss of critical skills from the country.
Additionally, clarification is required around some of the key issues such as the definition of the South African identity, the narrative of national unity, property rights, land redistribution and the current status of constitutional principles, among others. Guidance from national leadership on these issues is needed in order to remove uncertainty and provide a degree of clarity to industry stakeholders, investors and society in general.
The Inclusive Society Institute held two roundtable discussions on the role of the Afrikaans-speaking community in South Africa.
Keynote speakers for the events were Ruben Richards of the Ruben Richards Foundation (Cape Town) and Theo Vorster, an economic commentator and CEO of Galileo Capital (Pretoria).
The primary focus of the Inclusive Society Institute is to promote a more inclusive society by creating a platform where discourse around often divisive topics can be conducted through engaging with diverse and representative groups.
The majority of participants continue to feel a sense of hope and optimism for the future of the country, despite many frustrations and challenges.
Several participants reiterated that the Afrikaans-speaking community is not one of homogeneity nor one without its contradictions and complexities and should, therefore, also not be approached with the stereotypes that have been historically associated with this community.
It is important that minorities are included in these types of discussions towards contributing to the narrative regarding national unity, national policy and the effectiveness and implementation of principles set out in the constitution.
The current state of the economy is adversely affecting social cohesion and inclusive growth in South Africa.
The Inclusive Society Institute is committed to conducting future dialogue discussions of this nature, towards engaging with more participants in a structured manner and influencing different role players in the country.
The Institute can provide valuable insights into areas of alignment or division through facilitating robust discussions and providing analysis and research into public policies and issues of national interest.
Social cohesion survey
The composition of the two roundtables covered in this report, the institute considers generally representative of the broader Afrikaans-speaking community in South Africa. The roundtables served as focus groups to test their attitudinal sentiments as it relates to their role and place in society. To further assist in the analysis, a questionnaire was developed which probed the attitudes of the attendees on a range of issues that would allow for a broad assessment of this specific community’s commitment to the new democratic dispensation in South Africa, the issues in society that they find most concerning and the prospect of their social integration into an inclusive society, free from discrimination and racial division.
The twelve questions posed, could be divided into three broad themes:
Theme one tested their willingness to be co-builders of South Africa and their acceptance of the rainbow nation’ concept.
Do you believe that, as a member of the Afrikaans community, you can make a meaningful contribution to build and sustain an inclusive society in South Africa?
Do you identify with the following statement? A modern-day Afrikaans citizen is one that is in touch with the times, identifies as African, and experiences/ accepts other cultures without fear of having to give up his/her own cultural identity.
The second theme tested whether they felt a sense of belonging in the country, and gave insight into whether they believed their rights as an Afrikaans-speaking community were being upheld. This test gave an indication as to whether they considered themselves to be valued as equal citizens and whether they had confidence in the country’s capacity to move beyond racebased policy dialogue.
Do you feel that your fundamental rights are being recognised in South Africa?
Do you feel excluded from political decisions and policymaking?
Do you believe that Afrikaans people and/or their culture are being discriminated against?
Do you think the Afrikaans language is being marginalised?
Do you believe that the new (younger) generation of Afrikaans people are still being held accountable for the actions and decisions of the previous regime?
Do you experience a sense of solidarity between the various racial groups in the country?
The third theme served to test the community’s confidence in South Africa, and thus the likeliness of them committing themselves and their families to the long-term future of the country. It is also important for the country to retain the skill sets contained within the Afrikaans community. This theme also specifically tested their susceptibility to emigration.
Do you feel economically secure?
Do you have confidence in the future of the country?
Do you feel safe in the country (physically)?
Have you considered emigrating?
The overall conclusion to be drawn from the responses to the questions posed under theme one is that there is a high commitment across both groups to the building of a sustainable and inclusive South Africa. Ninety-six percent of the respondents in Cape Town and 100% of the respondents in Pretoria (98% average) believe they can make a positive contribution to the building of a shared future in South Africa. An average of 86% of the respondents across both groups identify themselves as [South] African and accept the other cultures of the country, without the fear of having to give up their own culture. At 95% this sentiment was especially high in the Pretoria group, but at 74% somewhat lower, yet still high, in the Cape Town group. Given these statistics, the fair conclusion to be drawn is that given the right motivation and support, the Afrikaans-speaking community will respond enthusiastically to a call to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa.
However, despite the high levels of aspiration to be part of the solution, from the responses it is evident that the Afrikaans-speaking community do not share the belief that the policymakers in South Africa share such sentiment. The trends in both Cape Town and Pretoria were similar in all the questions designed to elicit an understanding of their sense of inclusion. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents were of the opinion that their fundamental rights are not being recognised, 73% feel excluded from political decisions and policymaking, and 63% believe that Afrikaans people and/or their culture are being discriminated against. In terms of their thinking that the Afrikaans language is being marginalised, here too, both the Cape Town and Pretoria groups recorded a high level of discontent, albeit somewhat higher in Cape Town (Cape Town 78%, Pretoria 54%, Average 64%). In terms of their conviction that the new (younger) generation of Afrikaans people are still being held accountable for the actions and decisions of the previous regime, a staggering 86% believe it to be the case, although in this instance, at 91%, it was the Pretoria group that felt more strongly so. In Cape Town it was 78% of the respondents that felt so.
The general sense of exclusion reflected in the aforementioned statistics has distinctly resulted in the conviction that there is a lack of solidarity between the various racial groups in the country. Only 30% of respondents believe such solidarity exists (Cape Town 22%, Pretoria 35%).
Also on the negative side, both in terms of their current levels of confidence in the country, and in their own personal futures, the statistics are quite glaring.
There is a general lack of confidence in their economic future. Only 41% of the respondents in Cape Town and 35% of the respondents in Pretoria feel economically secure. Even more alarming was their sense of not being physically safe in the country. In this regard, only 15% of the respondents in Cape Town and 24% of the respondents in Pretoria feel physically safe in South Africa.
That being said, the aforementioned negativity was not reflected to the same degree in their general sense of confidence in the country’s future, although there was a considerable differentiation to be made between the Cape Town and Pretoria groups. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents in the Pretoria group have confidence in the country’s future. The percentage of Cape Town respondents that have confidence in the country’s future was significantly lower (44%). The average between the two groups stood at 58%. The same schizophrenia was detected in the responses to whether they had considered emigration. Whilst only 35% of the respondents in Pretoria consider emigration as an option, this grew to 52% of the respondents in Cape Town. It is not clear what has given rise to this anomaly, nevertheless, with an average of 42% of respondents indicating that they have considered emigration, given the necessity to retain skills and capital in South Africa, this is an aspect that deserves further investigation. The correlation between the two concepts of still holding the younger generation accountable for the actions and decisions of the previous regime and their susceptibility to emigration has not been tested. In this regard a follow-up study will be undertaken to determine whether there is such a link, and whether the notion of emigration is confined to specific generational strata or not.
To reach the goal of an inclusive society
From the aforementioned analysis, it can be deduced that, in terms of creating an inclusive society, a significant trust deficit exists between the Afrikaans-speaking community and the country’s policymakers. In itself, this should be a cause for concern in terms of the stated objective of promoting social cohesion. On the positive side, however, the policymakers will find the Afrikaans-speaking community receptive to programmes designed to promote their inclusion and mainstreaming into the public policy processes and implementation programmes of the state, as well as into the broader society. In doing so, policymakers should design strategies that aim to remove the concerns that have been clearly identified in this research as inhibitors to integration.
Social cohesion survey
The role and place of the Afrikaans community in South African society
The following recommendations have emerged from the roundtable dialogue sessions held in Cape Town and Pretoria.
1. Encourage participation and collaboration through future dialogue and
The roll-out of community-focused engagement aimed at educating citizens on the principles of democracy and active citizen participation, will serve to empower members of society and shape the narrative regarding political participation and social cohesion. These programmes can also contribute to the development of innovative solutions for issues affecting communities and inform the younger generation’s understanding of national identity.
Committing to future dialogue between government leaders and citizens can help to promote national unity among South Africans feeling excluded from decision-making processes and consultations. Moreover, workshops aimed at finding practical solutions to issues and blockages can restore citizens’ agency and motivate them to be active participants in building South Africa.
Robust, honest engagements need to take place regarding what is required to move the country forward. People from all races, ethnicities and cultures must be considered contributors in finding solutions, regardless of their political affiliations.
Improved collaboration between government and the private sector is needed to combat unemployment and implement training and skills transfer programmes in accordance with the needs of the economy. Moreover, the absorption of university graduates into the workforce is something that needs to urgently be addressed.
2. Shape the narrative of non-racialism
Government is encouraged to re-assess the use of language regarding racial differentiation such as ‘Blacks in general and Africans in particular’, in an effort to confront the exclusion and discrimination experienced by minority groups that fall outside of these parameters.
Moreover, strategic and deliberate decisions pertaining to the messaging on national policy and critical matters affecting society, must be taken to inspire and motivate citizens to take action. This can also serve to combat the current disconnect experienced between leadership and communities that feel excluded from the agenda.
Lastly, public officials are urged to steer away from stereotyping and generalisations when making public pronouncements which include racial aspects, as this has a demoralising effect on minority groups, especially those that have come to the party in terms of taking action and providing support.
3. Define the vision for South Africa and promote partnerships
The leadership in South Africa need to define the future envisioned for South Africa. Clarity is required on the definition of the new South Africa and what leadership is going to do to achieve this image in the country. People need motivation from leadership.
Furthermore, improved collaboration between government and the private sector is vital to combat unemployment and implement training and skills transfer programmes in accordance with the needs of the economy.
4. Provide inspirational, transparent and accountable leadership
Address the messages coming from government leaders that discredit constitutional values and re-establish the sense of discipline amongst leaders. South Africans, regardless of ethnicity or culture will support this when seen in practice.
Don’t use political power to oppress minorities or exclude certain races from the decision-making processes. Follow the prescripts of the constitution of equality and fairness and justice for all people and give every race an opportunity to participate in all sectors of the country.
Government must hold those found to be involved in corruption to account. Visible consequences must be implemented for citizens to see that government is serious about condemning and combatting corruption.
5. Clarity and reflection on legislation
Leadership is encouraged to reflect on the intended versus the applied impact of policies. In the case of BBBEE and affirmative action, government could consider reform regarding the implantation of these policies to avoid the current adverse effects experienced by workforces, industry and private sector business. It should be an enabler for business to grow, develop and benefit the intended benefices.
Drastic intervention is needed in the education sector. Educators require support from government pertaining to a lack of resources and well-trained educators. The suggestion is to address the shortage in teachers by re-opening education colleges and training colleges for teachers.
Moreover, citizens require clarity and certainty from government on areas such as property rights, land redistribution without compensation, the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), economic reforms, the protection of the Judiciary and the status of Constitution following the effects of State Capture.
6. Mentorship initiatives
There remains a great sense of optimism and willingness among the Afrikaans-speaking community and business to work together, mobilise and collaborate with government. Citizens are willing, able and skilled to participate in programmes that promote the transfer of skills and establishing mentoring programmes throughout various sectors and trades in the country.
It is recommended that leadership consider collaborating with private business stakeholders and skilled artisans in establishing training and mentoring programmes that can offer young people, graduates and unskilled workers opportunities to learn from experienced professionals and receive the support needed for the development of scarce skills, business growth and entrepreneurial enterprises.
Additionally, leadership can also consider approaching inactive or retired professionals and experienced stakeholders as participants in these mentorship programmes, thus making use of this currently overlooked yet available group of citizens.
A message to the Afrikaans community: South Africa is your homeland too
Paul Mashatile | Treasurer General of the African National Congress
The focus of this address was on the ANC’s commitment to an inclusive society and the actions taken by the ANC to promote social cohesion:
The release of Mr. Nelson Mandela on the 11th of February 1990 was highlighted as the day when South Africa was placed firmly on a path to unity, reconciliation and democracy.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (Nelson Mandela, 1964)
The history of the ANC is reflected on as a point of departure for its long-standing commitment to an inclusive society and the promotion of social cohesion.
In a seminal article published in October 1911, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, one of the foremost intellectuals at the time, called on Africans to put their differences aside and forge a Native Union.
In the article, Seme wrote: “The demon of racialism, the aberrations of the Xosa-Fingo feud, the animosity that exists between the Zulus and the Tongas, between the Basutos and every other native must be buried and forgotten; it has shed among us sufficient blood! We are one people. These divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes and of all our backwardness and ignorance today.”
It was this article that laid the basis for the formation, in 1912, of the South African Native National Congress, which later became the African National Congress. The article was the founding document of the ANC.
Writing about the ANC’s founding conference, Seme had the following to say: “It was a conference of races and of nations – many of whose ranks had been devastated by the demon of inter-tribal strife and jealousy.”
The Freedom Charter, which was adopted in Kliptown in 1956, reflects the views of South Africans from all corners of the country. Most profoundly, this people’s document declared boldly that South Africa belonged to all who live in it, Black and White.
Even during the dark and difficult days of banning, exile, mass detentions, torture, political persecutions, assassinations and killings by the apartheid regime, the ANC remained steadfast in calling for a South Africa that belonged to all who live in it.
At its 1969 conference in Morogoro in Tanzania, the ANC officially opened its membership and leadership to all races, transforming itself into a truly non-racial organisation both in form and character. Morogoro also reaffirmed that South Africa belonged to all who live in it.
In articulating an alternative vision for South Africa, President O.R. Tambo stated: “Our task is to remake our part of the world into a corner of the globe on which all of humanity – Black and White – shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity.” According to the view of O.R. Tambo, it was the ANC’s responsibility to break down barriers of division and create a South Africa where there will be neither Black nor White, just South Africans free and united in diversity.
The ANC has learnt from its forebears that the struggle for liberation was never about replacing one form of oppression with another. The struggle was principally about building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Up to this day this remains the guiding vision of the ANC.
Drawing from the ANC’s rich and proud history of promoting an inclusive society, the country’s democratic constitution reaffirms that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
The National Development Plan: Vision 2030, the lodestar to the future, envisions a South Africa where everyone is able to say: “I cannot be without you, without you this South African community is an incomplete community, without one single person, without one single group, without the region or the continent, we are not the best that we can be.”
As part of practical efforts to contribute towards building an inclusive society and to promote social cohesion, the ANC initiated community dialogues in all provinces on social cohesion and nation building in 2011. These community dialogues culminated in the first National Summit on Social Cohesion and Nation Building in Kliptown, the home of the Freedom Charter.
That historic summit brought together more than 3 000 delegates from across the country representing various religious, political, business and civil society organisations to take stock of the process made in uniting the South African nation. Delegates recommitted themselves to the vision of a South Africa where we are one people, one nation, one humanity with a shared destiny.
The summit asserted that true and lasting reconciliation, social cohesion and nation building is not an event but a process – it is a journey. This journey will require that we redouble our efforts to address key challenges such as joblessness, poverty, unequal access to opportunities, landlessness, homelessness, the burden of disease, gender inequality and discrimination as well as gender-based violence.
It is perhaps time that the declaration and resolutions of the 2012 National Summit on Social Cohesion and Nation Building are revisited and brought to life. The ANC stands ready to work together with all those seeking to revive the letter and spirit of that summit.
Sport must continuously be used to build bridges of unity among South Africans, for we know it all too well that South Africa is a sporting nation and that sport is the greatest unifier.
Under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the country and the ANC has entered a period of renewal. This moment of renewal is an opportunity to reset the moral compass of the country and the movement. It is an opportunity to recommit to strong and unquestionable leadership. It is also an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the goal of building a truly united South Africa. This is an opportunity to restore and maintain the non-racial character of the ANC – to keep the ANC as the Parliament of all the people of South Africa.
It is in this context that I wish to take this opportunity to reassure the Afrikaans community in our country that they are an integral part of the South African landscape, history and heritage. Equally, you are part of the future of this country. We will never forget the role played by Braam Fischer, Dr. Beyers Naude and many other patriots from the Afrikaans community in securing our freedom. I assure all of you that your language, your culture and heritage will continue to be acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated. You are as South African, as all of us. South Africa is your home. You are contributing immensely to the development of our society. For that you have earned the trust and respect of all South Africans of goodwill. Your views, your aspirations and your needs matter, they carry equal worth and value as those of your fellow South Africans. Your dreams are valid. You are free to pursue them.
In 1999, Madiba said: “I have great confidence in Afrikaners. They have their name because they considered themselves to be from Africa. Their language originated here in Africa. I know that the vast majority of them will continue to help build this African homeland of theirs.”
Let us work together to build a South Africa we can all be proud to call home. Let us also work together to ensure that the ANC remains a home for all South Africans including members of the Afrikaans community.
The history of the ANC has a long-standing commitment to an inclusive society and the promotion of social cohesion.
The Freedom Charter (1956) declared boldly that South Africa belonged to all who live in it, Black and White.
The vision of the 2012 National Summit on Social Cohesion and Nation Building of a South Africa where we are one people, one nation, one humanity with a shared destiny, should be revisited and brought to life.
The Ramaphosa era is an opportunity to recommit to strong and unquestionable leadership. It is also an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the goal of building a truly united South Africa.
The country’s democratic constitution reaffirms that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in diversity.
Sport must continuously be used to build bridges of unity among South Africans.
The ANC views the Afrikaans-speaking community as an integral part of the South African landscape, history and heritage and part of the future. Its language, culture and heritage will continue to be acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated. Their views, aspirations and needs matter.
Protecting the identity of the Coloured community in South Africa
Dr Ruben Richards | Chairperson of the Ruben Richards Foundation
Condensed Biography: Dr Ruben Richards is the Chairperson of the Ruben Richards Foundation, an NGO with a focus on facilitating healing within the context of trauma. He is the former Executive Secretary of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former Director General of the Scorpions, a notable author, community leader within the Coloured communities in the Western Cape, speaker and company director. He also served in executive and leadership positions in government, higher education institutions, the faith community and the private business sector.
Richards delivered the keynote address during the Cape Town roundtable discussion, during which he stressed the importance of protecting community identity with specific reference to the Coloured community in South Africa. Richards emphasised that the current concerns and anxieties experienced by the Afrikaans-speaking community is not exclusive to them. He stated: “You don’t have a copyright on anxiety.” The anxieties relating to marginalisation, economic exclusion and inability to influence national policy, continues to be experienced by the Coloured community within the new dispensation.
The overarching theme here is inclusivity, which begs the question: who is excluded? What does one have to do to be part of this inclusive society? Additionally, Richards noted that the current education system in South Africa produces people who do not find a way to be included in society. There are more than five million people that form part of the NEET generation: Not in Education, Employment or Training.
Richards highlighted some of the consequences of exclusion from mainstream society as experienced on the Cape Flats, sighting issues of gangs and teenage pregnancies; particularly pregnant teenagers who are carrying the babies of gang leaders, which often results in child abuse within these immature relationships.
He also cautioned against stereotyping: “Stereotypes are very, very strong. And what we physically represent on the outside is often what dominates the initial interactions.”
Protection of community values and history is central to individual identity.
The current concerns of the Afrikaans-speaking community relating to marginalisation and exclusion is not exclusive to this group.
The Coloured community is continuing to experience exclusion and marginalisation in the new dispensation.
The current education system produces the NEET generation: Not in Education, Employment and Training.
Inclusive economic growth key to social cohesion
Theo Vorster | Chief Executive Officer of Galileo Capital
Theo Vorster, the CEO of Galileo Capital and economic market commentator, served as a keynote speaker for the Pretoria roundtable discussion.
Vorster began his address by stating the following: “I think the key point of departure is that for any complicated problem, there's a simple solution that doesn’t work. Our problems are complicated, then so are the solutions.”
Vorster presented on the current lack of economic growth in South Africa and eluded to factors such as the departure of critical skills and the loss of influential private sector business, which further exacerbates the stunted economic growth in the country.
In the early 1990s there was a close correlation between South Africa’s GDP growth rate and that of the rest of the world. In fact, the GDP per capita tracked the rest of the world. In 2012/2013, that correlation broke. Currently, the GDP per capita in the rest of the world is nearly 50% higher than that of South Africa and, consequently, South Africa is now 12 years behind.
For several years, economic growth was at 5%, which means that the economy doubles every 15 years. If the growth is at 1%, the economy will double every 72 years. Therefore, at a growth of 0.5%, the economy will take 150 years to double.
If South Africa had kept track with the rest of the world, the economy would have been at a 15% growth rate and the unemployment rate would have been closer to 20%, instead of 30%.
Reconciliation, social cohesion and keeping skills in South Africa is easy if the economy is growing. But if it is a struggling economy, we have the unfortunate situation whereby the people who can afford to – those with capital, and the talented – leave the country. Therefore, due to the current context we find ourselves in, the GDP growth will need to come from the private sector. Koos Bekker is known for saying that there are only a few people that grow the economy: engineers and entrepreneurs; and in our case, these are the people that are leaving.
Additionally, Vorster also noted that the Afrikaans business community is a major contributor to economic growth and could help to create employment opportunities and encourage much-needed inclusive growth through private sector business.
Vorster cited the example of Naspers, which in the late 1990s was a company with a market capital of roughly R6-billion. Today, Naspers is worth R1.2-trillion and constitutes 10% of the national GDP. Approximately R1 in R10, of every government employee’s pension is invested in Naspers, the biggest company on the JSE.
The Afrikaans business community can contribute immensely to economic growth, business development, creating employment and opportunities. In conclusion Vorster indicated that inclusive growth must be a focal point of government towards addressing the current economic climate, combatting unemployment and the eroding effects this has on the national GDP.
Economic growth and stability are necessary for reconciliation, social cohesion, and the retention of skills and investment to be successful in South Africa.
Due to the current context we find ourselves in, the GDP growth will need to come from the private sector.
The Afrikaans business community is a major contributor to economic growth and can help to create employment opportunities and encourage much-needed inclusive growth through private sector business.
Inclusive growth must be a focal point of government towards addressing the current economic climate, combatting unemployment and the eroding effects this has on the national GDP.
Working together to build one nation
Summary of general conversations
There remains a great sense of optimism and willingness among the Afrikaans-speaking community and business to work together, mobilise and collaborate with government. However, they are often discouraged due to a perceived lack of political will to acknowledge the role that this community and other minority groups can play in improving South Africa.
Dialogues and discussions such as these need to result in visible action and implementation.
Several participants expressed the need for cultural identity to be upheld, protected, promoted, and embraced, while promoting nation building and a cohesive society.
The Coloured community remains a minority group that is marginalised, politically excluded, and economically disempowered.
South Africans need a clear vision and dependable leadership to overcome the current apathy and disenfranchisement among the citizenry.
The issue of unemployment has been acknowledged but not enough is being done to resolve it. Practical solutions need to be put into effect.
BBBEE and affirmative action is considered, rightly or wrongly, by most participants as discriminatory and one of the biggest inhibitors for business and utilising the economic potential and skills available in the country.
Economic growth and stability are necessary for reconciliation, social cohesion, retention of skills and investment to be successful in South Africa.
Prof David Mosoma, Chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, commented that tentative solutions for the country are needed and can be developed through collaboration between different communities in South Africa, including the Afrikaans community. Development must be done together and in such a manner that does not culminate in separate development.
Clarity is needed on the status of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
There is great concern about the current status of the Constitution, as well as the effect that State Capture has had on both the Constitution and the Judiciary.
Focus must be given to increasing citizen and sectoral stakeholder participation in decision-making.
Participants remarked that although the ANC’s intention towards creating an equal and inclusive society for all citizens was true, a disconnect occurred between the ANC’s intended goals and the realisation thereof on a grassroots level.
Efforts towards social cohesion must not be discouraged by comments and messaging from political leaders that deepen societal divides.
The Cape Town and Pretoria dialogue sessions on the place and role of the Afrikaans-speaking community concluded with open discussion sessions where all participants had the opportunity to respond to the addresses by the guest speakers and raise any further concerns within the presence of the ANC Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile. The aim of the discussion was to achieve a better understanding of how the Afrikaans-speaking community views its place and role within the country, what hopes and fears they have and the possible recommendations they could offer to resolving the plethora of challenges currently facing the country.
Several members acknowledged the value and need of dialogue sessions such as these, which allow for honest and open exchanges between leaders and the ruling party and by extension, the government. A platform of this nature also presents an opportunity for people to gain insights and understanding about one another's assumptions, concerns and ideals.
Overall, participants expressed their commitment and hope that the issues plaguing South Africa can be resolved. This, despite echoes of frustration and scepticism that the country's leadership will take heed of the fears and issues expressed by them. The lack of leader ship and vision from government was a recurring theme expressed among the participants. Many indicated that block ages towards resolving issues such as unemployment, economic decline, education and the loss of skills due to emigration, need to be addressed by government with urgency.
Emphasis was also placed on the fact that citizens need to see actions and results stemming from planning conferences and dialogue discussions. The lack of apparent political will from leadership to implement recommendations and address the issues expressed through these initiatives continues to contribute to apathy among citizens. This makes the mobilisation and motivation of citizens to contribute to the solutions that much more difficult.
Discussions pertaining to the narrative of national identity as it is understood within South African society, was expressed by several participating members in the general discussions. There were contrasting views regarding what constitutes the identity of a South African and how this affects social cohesion in the country. Moreover, questions were raised regarding how this definition of national identity is formed and under stood by most citizens in the country, as well as, how this narrative is being communicated from leadership both in government and in communities.
Some indicated that they associate more closely with their identity as a South African, above their racial, cultural or linguistic community identity. While others argued that a space within this notion of national identity must be created to include, promote and protect the individual’s cultural identity in such a way that still contributes to nation building and national unity.
With regards to social cohesion, some participants expressed their lack of belief in the notion that South Africans can be united in their diversity. Additionally, some believe that the constitutional principles to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the basic rights of all South Africans, are not truly being applied from government’s side. Concerns were raised regarding the breakdown of the values of non-racialism in society and the role that all citizens and leadership need to play to ensure that these values are protected and strengthened among South Africa’s youth.
Participants expressed that the use of phrasing such as ‘Blacks in general and Africans in particular’ continues to perpetuate exclusion and discrimination against other races and cultures that do not form part of this classification. The development of an inclusive society in South Africa must include the promotion of non-racialism, however, phrasing in legislation such as this, further perpetuates exclusion of certain groups and the exclusivity of others.
The Cape Town session keynote speaker, Ruben Richards, also highlighted that minority groups such as the Coloured community, remain marginalised, politically excluded and economically disempowered. Focus must thus be placed on these minorities to ensure that they become active and participatory citizens to hold governing officials accountable whether at a local, provincial or national level. It is imperative that the Coloured community be included in these social debates and that the value in their contribution to the country is recognised.
The need for vision and inspiration from national leadership was greatly emphasised. Dr Rudi Buys, Dean of Humanities at Cornerstone Institute, stated that diverse and influential voices are currently missing from leadership, which are needed to motivate citizens to be activists and to empower them to contribute to the solutions needed for the many challenges facing the country. Strategic and deliberate messaging from the right leaders on national policy and critical matters can help to overcome the current disconnect experienced by citizens. The lack of accountability and transparency from government continues to remain of great concern.
Other issues emphasised during the discussions included the current education system, which does not fully allow for the inclusion of all youth into society and the economy. According to Ruben Richards over five million people are part of the ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) generation’, which leaves individuals unable to integrate into society, further putting pressure on the fiscus. Additionally, the value of home-language education should also not be overlooked, along with the dire need for resources and well-trained educators within the sector.
The current economic climate remained a prominent point of discussion. The lack of growth and prolonged economic stagnation, as well as the loss of human capital from the country is a major concern and urgent intervention from leadership will be necessary for any improvement in the current economic growth trajectory to occur.
Comments were made that government is currently overlooking small business and only focusing on collaborating with big business in its efforts to stimulate economic growth. With the right support and opportunities, small business can be valuable for job creation.
The negative effect of policies such BBBEE and affirmative action was extensively discussed by a majority of the participants. The necessity of these policies in supporting previously disadvantaged citizens was acknowledged and supported, however, many participants indicated that the current approach and implementation of BBBEE has had devastating effects on businesses, industry and the economy.
The loss of critical skills from the country due to lack of opportunity was also contributed to the implementation of these policies. Therefore, the intended versus achieved outcome of BBBEE has become questionable, as it appears to benefit the wealthy more than the intended recipients. Moreover, participants noted that the legislation surrounding BBBEE companies does not serve to benefit or protect the workforce from exploitation.
With regards to the issue of unemployment, participants expressed the need for practical plans to be put in place to effect change and growth. Closer collaboration between government and private sector business through programmes like the Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) should be increased and emphasised. Moreover, the absorption of university graduates into the workforce urgently needs to be addressed through collaborative efforts.
Youth unemployment is one of the greatest challenges in the country, which not only limits the prospects of young people but also applies unsustainable pressure on governmental social programmes amidst stagnant economic development. There needs to be more pragmatic solutions put in place from both government and the private sector to address this crisis, which perpetuates the wealth disparity between the privileged and poor communities in South Africa.
During both the discussions in Pretoria and Cape Town, the willingness from the Afrikaans-speaking community to be a part of the solution to the challenges in the country was clearly expressed. This is a sentiment echoed by other communities and sectors of South African society. Members of the Afrikaans business community indicated that they are able and ready to develop innovative initiatives to address issues such as unemployment, economic growth, investment, community empowerment and the transfer of skills. However, many feel they are often overlooked as a result of political agendas. Moreover, policies like affirmative action and BBBEE are preventing skilled and motivated people from gaining equal access to employment, business opportunities and, ultimately, economic participation.
During closing remarks at the Cape Town event, Ruben Richards reiterated the need for government to strongly condemn the levels of corruption experienced among officials and hold implicated individuals accountable. Additionally, he also urged government to make use of the available skilled and competent people in the country, who are willing to step forward and put their shoulder to the wheel.
The discussions were concluded by comments and responses from the ANC Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile, and the facilitator, Roelf Meyer.
The Treasurer General remarked that these engagements and dialogues are important for leadership to hear and understand the fears, hopes and recommendations of its citizens. The honesty and frankness expressed by the participants is greatly appreciated and importance will be placed on the issues raised regarding policy and legislation. Mashatile remarked that the ANC would not advocate policies that are regressive.
Mashatile also stressed the necessity of developing action plans to address the issues expressed; strengthening the country’s vision of building a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society for all people; focusing on decisive economic and structural reforms; repairing trust between government and the private sector through partnership; creating certainty for citizens, businesses and investors; and stimulating public investments within the domestic market.
Moreover, the Treasurer General also stated that the current ideals and narrative perpetuated among the younger generations is instilling polarisation and segregationist ideals, which left unaddressed will make the notion of unity in South African society that much more elusive. As South Africans, we can only truly be brought together as one nation with a singular goal to pursue. There must be momentum from all sectors of society. Therefore, platforms like these created by the Inclusive Society Institute must continue to be expanded upon for people to engage and for leadership to take notice of what citizens need.
Roelf Meyer concluded the events by commending the participants for speaking openly about difficult discussion topics and being forthcoming in expressing their concerns. Meyer reminded participants that despite the current challenges facing our society, we as South Africans must still appreciate the fact that our society and identity as a country could have looked much different today. Strategic decisions were made by leaders in the country to change the face of a nation that previously defined itself as an exclusive society. We made a new start and completely reorganised and redefined the very identity of a country on the basis of the constitution we have today. We need to focus again on living up to those principles captured in the constitution, a task that is the responsibility of all citizens in South Africa.
Additionally, Meyer reiterated two points strongly communicated in both Cape Town and Pretoria, that the Treasurer General could relay to national leadership: Firstly, people in the Afrikaans-speaking community are committed to working towards building the country and creating opportunities for growth, and secondly, don’t discriminate against minorities.
The Inclusive Society Institute will continue in its commitment to creating platforms for engagement and bringing more stakeholders to the conversation.
Dialogue can no longer be conducted simply for the sake of engaging.
The principles that unify us as South Africans must drive us towards a common goal.
The conduct of national leadership and community leaders in public platforms cannot continue to be pervasive and counterproductive in shaping a non-racial and unified society.
Collaborative space between government, the private sector and civil society must be opened up for all to provide their inputs.
Action plans must be formulated to effectively address the issues identified and influence decision-making processes in government.
All South Africans have a contribution to make in shaping the narrative around national identity, unity and promoting the principles captured in the constitution.
The Inclusive Society Institute is encouraged to facilitate future roundtable discussions of this nature which allow for robust debate to occur and continue. This will contribute to the promotion of a unified and cohesive society.
Tabulated list of concerns
Following the Cape Town and Pretoria engagements with members of the Afrikaans community on their place and role in South African society, the following concerns, be it perceived or real, were identified:
Engagements towards improved dialogue need to be succeeded by action and the implementation of resolutions
The lack of vision and reliable leadership from government has resulted in distrust, apathy and disenfranchisement among the citizenry
Lack of accountability and transparency from national leadership. Inability to hold those implicated in corruption responsible
Need for diversification of voices in leadership to inspire citizens towards action and activism
No clear definition and direction from leadership on national unity and how this can be achieved
Efforts towards social cohesion are threatened by comments and messaging from political leaders that deepen societal divides
Disconnect between what young South Africans understand regarding the intended outcomes and principles forged during the South African transition and the manifestation of these desired outcomes in their lives today
Continued use of racial differentiation in legislation and policy including the use of ‘Blacks in general and Africans in particular’, which perpetuates exclusion and discrimination against other races and cultures not part of this classification
Discrimination against minorities through legislation and policies resulting in political and economic disempowerment
Youth feel excluded from the political agenda and lack opportunities to participate
Lack of civic participation in holding government officials accountable and promoting good governance
No visible application of constitutional principles that form the foundations of national unity, tolerance and inclusive society
The growing crisis of unemployment has been acknowledged; however, more practical plans need to be developed to effect change
Increasing levels of youth unemployment and a lack of initiatives aimed at absorbing unemployed graduates into the workforce
Economic stagnation and difficulty of doing business in South Africa
Discriminatory nature of policies such as BBBEE and affirmative action
Competent, skilled and willing individuals feel they are overlooked when it comes to selection for programmes and initiatives aimed at solving the economic crisis in the country, due to politics playing a role in selection
Need for mentorship initiatives, training and skills transfer programmes
The loss of critical skills and qualified individuals as a result of lack of opportunities and stagnant economic growth
Urgent intervention in the education sector is needed, regarding the quality and level of education, shortage of educators and resources, and home-language teaching
Clear vision on economic reform and the empowerment of private sector business towards contributing to solutions
Lack of clarity on issues of property rights, land redistribution without compensation and the status of the NDR
Concerns regarding the status and protection of constitutional principles, as well as attacks on the Judiciary
Government continues to pursue avenues and legislative decisions that do not result in positive outcomes or visible effective changes/improvements
Action plan to address issues and concerns raised at the dialogues
The concerns raised during the two dialogues, as captured in the tabulated list of concerns (Annexure A), can be broadly grouped into three action types:
The first group of concerns are those for which political leaders and policymakers need sensitisation and which they need to take heed of in their policy formulations and public pronouncements.
The second group of concerns are those concerns that require further dialogue between the political leadership, policymakers and the Afrikaans-speaking community.
The third group of concerns are those that require further policy research and/or analysis.
The concerns are grouped hereunder within an action plan that sets out the concern, action required, the body to be engaged and the target deadline for concluding the action.