The significance of the Afrikanerverklaring

The recent statement from Afrikaner leaders has left some people perplexed, either because of prejudice, or because of impatience. But it is a vital step toward autonomy

Robert Duigan


Robert Duigan


May 6, 2024

The significance of the Afrikanerverklaring

Recently, a bit of a media kerfuffle has kicked up over the recent declaration issued by a selection of Afrikaner leaders, seeking territory for the Afrikaners, and a firmer place in South African society.

But many reading the document itself might come away somewhat perplexed by it - the 12-point bid doesn’t seem to make clear exactly what or where they have in mind.

Of course, this is normal - as different organisations move toward greater cooperation, they must start with broader principles before narrowing down to implementation, and so until a firm plan has been agreed upon by all parties, most progress is likely to be behind closed doors.

But if we look at the broader context, what is being done here will have a bit more clarity.

What is interesting is the selection of organisations, which brings together a fairly wide variety of disparate Afrikaner groups. Most of these are part of the broader Solidariteitbeweging (Solidariteit itself, Afriforum, Akademia, SAAI), but others are more interesting, coming from organisations such as Orania, the Afrikanerbond, NEASA, Sakeliga, the FAK, the de Klerk Foundation, Dr Corné Mulder of the VF+, and also Schalk Burger.

This selection of participants represents a broader unification of Afrikaner leadership, with very few standouts, leaving only the Bittereinders and other marginal or extremist groups on the outside, largely because of their immaturity, leadership volatility, and lack of good inter-community relationship building.

The Verklaring is ultimately a less-Quixotic version of the old Afrikaner Akkoord - the Akkoord itself was highly impractical land claim made by people with no power to enforce it, and is still supported only by a few scattered hardliners, like the mugus in the Bittereinders movement, whose capacity for practical action leaves much to be desired.

But while the old transition-era Afrikaner self-determination movement has a good deal of romance about it from old nostalgics, ultimately it was the lone wolves over at the Oraniabeweging that made real headway, while the rest of the Afrikaner leadership was laughing at them.

The simple reason they succeeded is that they understood that de facto power precedes de jure rights. In an interview on the Penuel Show, Joost Strydom, the official spokesman of the movement, mentioned an interesting point from the negotiations with the ANC in the new dispensation. When the self-determination movement approached then-deputy President Thabo Mbeki to demand the Volkstaat, General Viljoen was told to “show me the animal” - the reality of the Volkstaat must be created before it can be recognised.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that Orania is currently growing at a considerable pace - over 10% every year - leading many in the movement to seek expansion and broaden their horizons.

Which brings us back to the present agreement. It forms a consensus among almost all leading Afrikaner organisations, cultural, economic, and civic. and it points them all toward a common goal, even if at present it constitutes little more than a request for respect and basic decency from the government.

Five years ago, the Solidariteitbeweging published the Ankerdorp plan, a loose plan for the concentration of the Afrikaner people in 30 locations for the purpose of eventually achieving self-determination.

However, the plan had no implementation components to it, and while I have long thought this to be an excellent idea, the lack of implementation procedures makes this plan, however well-researched, ultimately little more than a wishlist.

Most of the country’s municipalities in the present era have been designed to disenfranchise white people, by grouping them everywhere with black majorities whose preferred socialist and black-nationalist candidates cannot be voted out. These municipalities have, with negligible exceptions, stolen almost all of the taxes extracted from their white residents, and neglected even the most basic aspects of service delivery.

This decay has led to a massive flight of Afrikaners from communities across the country, concentrating in major metropoles like Cape Town and Pretoria, or else leaving the country. The smaller communities have been left to crumble, and the newly settled towns which are still growing are very few in number, and increasingly atomised from disruption of public space by crime and less tangible aspects cultural disharmony.

This means that many of the farming communities around the country are increasingly isolated from the small town communities that used to sustain them, while draining talent from local communities.

Of the original 30 towns chosen for the Ankerdorp plan, most are rapidly shrinking, and can already be considered “unsustainable” by the metrics of the original study.

I have been lobbying the fellas at Solidariteit for an accelerated version of the Ankerdorp plan for about a year now. Recently I got a little contract to provide some input into the matter, and while I can’t share much, there are some points I will lay out further down.

Newzroom Afrika interviewed Werner Human from Solidariteit and Joost Strydom of the Oraniabeweging about this proposal. What host Xoli Mngambi pointed out about the Afrikanerverklaring, is an apparent contradiction in the manifesto itself - that the Afrikaners want separate areas to maintain their own culture and community autonomy, while wanting to be part of the new South Africa.

Now, this is not necessarily a contradiction - Afrikaners are not necessarily asking to acquire the status of a nation-state, and they will continue to be part of the political economy and cultural exchange that forms the basis of South African Society.

But to the Black-nationalist, this is of course a contradiction, and an affront. While whites can never become black (the primary criterion for membership of the nation of South Africa), they must, in order to be considered welcome in the nation, submit themselves unconditionally to the whims any members of the majority who conform to common ideals, and that means that no space should be felt between the will of the majority and the will of the minority.

They must give up their culture, their property, and and their concerns about violence and racial discrimination, without complaint. These are the conditions imposed by the African understanding of a unitary state, which of course is slow to be realised, because doing it all at once would be an unmitigated and violent catastrophe that would be politically unmanageable.

The point is to submit uncritically to the reform process.

Afrikaners, obviously, cannot afford to do this. And while white liberals may wish to appease, they have no means to defend their rights, or even to claim them, and will be considered temporarily useful hypocrites until the say “no” to some reform or other that has gone “too far”, at which point they will be designated racist, and a public enemy.

We all understand this dynamic pretty well.

So the only remaining option is the consolidation of power, sufficient to defend our rights. In part, this means having our own territory, or at the very least a position in a territory which afford one too much power to simply be disregarded. Unfortunately, outside the Cape, this means choosing between cooperating with Afrikaner nationalism, or submitting to black nationalism.

But simply expecting Afrikaners to move where they are needed is not realistic. Most aren’t even aware of the Ankerdorp Plan, much less repaired with the means and motivation to relocate.

In order to build and sustain Afrikaner communities in the way suggested by the Verklaring, there must be a removal from dependence on and exploitation of cheap black labour, and the realisation of common cultural space which can eventually be defended through common security efforts if the state or some unruly sub-state actor decides to expropriate property or impose intolerable cultural or economic conditions.

This is more than just moving into concentrated areas, it means achieving political autonomy within them.

Looking at the broader pattern of South Africa’s demographics, we really have only three types of solution. The first is building new towns from scratch, the second is redrawing municipal boundaries, and the third is consolidating economic control in existing settlements.

The Cape is really a different project, but is worth mentioning in passing, for the simple point that if we achieve independence, it becomes a vital way to ringfence capital which is at risk of expropriation; capital which can be used to help finance reconstruction in South Africa at a later stage.

The Western Plan

First option is new towns. These towns will need to be planned, and the most successful organisations to have done similar things, the early Zionist settlers (1882-1920) and the second wave of Mormon settlement in the midwest (1870s-1900s) did so through cooperative enterprises that recruited necessary labour and build on top of agricultural enterprises.

The locations will also need to funded, scouted, purchased, and built on. Development will have to proceed in phases, according to sustainable economic practices that will provide a lasting community capable of long term growth, with a material base upon which higher services can depend.

Where new towns are concerned, the best place for them in the Northern Cape, which is sparsely populated, and is the best way of building toward a seaport connection for Orania in the distant future - this may seem a little far off in the future, but achieving a safe trading corridor is really a vital means of ensuring long-term survival, which is the basis upon which people plan to remain - the possibility of a future.

The Eastern Plan

With that thought in mind, the declining settlements in the rest of the country are worth considering for a moment. Almost all are small minorities in their administrative areas, and are accompanied by large black townships, largely driven by illegal and informal settlements.

Many are losing young adults seeking gainful employment elsewhere, but have enough of a local Afrikaner population to sustain a community, where historical attachments are very strong.

While these communities may not be particularly economically energetic, they are rather vital, as it is pretty impractical to funnel everyone into Pretoria, Orania and the Cape, even if these are the last line of defence.

To achieve autonomy there, the communities will need to wean themselves off the exploitation of black labour, by automating and mechanising every aspect of business they can, and focusing on taking over infrastructure management from the local government which, thanks to a Constitutional Court victory in Bloemfontein, is now a distinct possibility, along with reappropriating municipal rates for this purpose.

New mechanisms developed by the VF+ can also assist with this - Community Upliftment Programs involve handing neighbourhood committees control over the rates intended for the upkeep of their own neighbourhood infrastructure on a tender basis. Whether the Afrikanerdorpe (in, for example, Mpumalanga) can extract these kinds of concessions is another matter, but it can be done at least in theory.

Additionally, investment in infrastructure, housing and other amenities for lower-income Afrikaner workers will be necessary to provide a counterbalance to the low wages and low quality-of-life expectations they are competing with.

This will require coordinated capital, legal assistance and skills training and recruiting.

The Metropolitan Plan

The third option is more tricky, but by no means less essential - that is redrawing municipal boundaries and handing control back to the community. The most viable option for this right now is Pretoria - though it is currently swallowed up by the broad jerrymandering project known as Tshwane, the bulk of the city itself is Afrikaans.

The process for liberating Pretoria is complicated, because it requires control of the provincial legislature, and a successful ConCourt application to override the Municipal Demarcation Board which, as an Afrikaner community taking control of a major metropole, will have slim chances at best.

But if a black community can achieve this first, the legal precedent will be impossible to deny to Afrikaners. For my money, the prime candidate would be Soweto, unless some other community can achieve this end without the involvement of a provincial MEC redrawing boundaries.

Unfortunately, this will involve political parties and some street mobilisation, which the movement has wisely avoided getting involved with, and the only party predisposed to such a plan is the VF+, whose place in the MPC is respected, but does not have a great deal of leverage, and is only good for part of the process.

All of these projects are fairly difficult, but such is what the implementation of such a plan would look like. And with the recent acceleration of BEE quotas and restrictions, the deadline is likely looming a lot lower than initially thought.

We almost certainly have less than ten years to achieve basic autonomy, and the groundwork must be laid soon.

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