Herbst: ANC’s Kohler Barnard treatment – more ‘Verwoerdian’ than ‘Bothaian’

By Ed Herbst*

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst
Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

In February 1982, as an SABC television news cameraman, I was standing outside a room in parliament in Cape Town with my reporter colleague Johan Pretorius waiting for a press conference to start.

Behind the closed door nearby, President P W Botha was having a discussion with Andries Treurnicht, his Minister of State for Administration and of Statistics. The subject under discussion was Botha’s Tri-cameral Parliament concept which would exclude black people but would give a limited political voice to the Coloured and Indian population groups.

We knew what was coming. The broedertwis would be sorted out and the two men, exuding false bonhomie, would paper over the cracks.

Suddenly the door burst open and Treurnicht strode past us, his face reflecting his fury and shouting “Ek is klaar met daai kommunis, P W Botha!” (I am finished with that communist P W Botha!). Before the astonished press contingent could react, he was gone.

At that moment it became clear that P W Botha had done what his predecessor, John Vorster had never had the courage to do – he had stared down the National Party’s right wing and split the Afrikaner vote. Treurnicht went on to establish the Conservative Party.

Whatever his faults, Botha began his tenure as the country’s de facto political leader by doing away with petty apartheid legislation and becoming the first National Party leader to visit Soweto. He was well received, telling the people there that “We are all South Africans” and writing off the township’s R9 million debt.

As historian Herman Giliomee says in his book, ‘The Afrikaners – Biography of a People’ (Tafelberg, 2003):

Under Vorster the dominant image of the state had been that of a poorly managed Afrikaner family firm with a proliferation of uncoordinated cabinet committees and rampant departmentalism. Botha thoroughly overhauled the machinery of government; he strengthened the prime minister’s office, established a proper cabinet secretariat, reduced the cabinet committees to four, and brought the number state departments down from thirty-nine to twenty-two.

The P W Botha era

I was reminded of this when, on 26 August, it was announced that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had filed Equality Court papers against DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard. He did so on behalf of his party after she shared a Facebook post by journalist Paul Kirk who suggested that the administration of health, education, and the police service was better during the PW Botha era than it is now.

Dianne Kohler Barnard - the DA's reaction to her "weep of a mouse" was overdone
Dianne Kohler Barnard

Mantashe said that by reposting someone else’s opinion, she was guilty of hate speech. He has called for her criminal prosecution, for her to be fined half a million rand and for costs to be awarded against her should she oppose the ANC motion.

This is interesting because he has not filed court papers against Enoch “Canyon Springs” Godongwana an honest and honourable man, who said that South Africa must apply “Verwoerdian quotas” – and the ANC has not disavowed this interpretation despite a recent Constitutional Court judgment and the subsequent agreement between Solidarity and the SAPS.

Verwoerd based his quota policy on that of Adolf Hitler, whom he greatly admired.

The essence of the legislation passed by the Nazis in April 1933 was that it restricted the number of Jewish students at schools and universities to their demographic total in German society – 1.5% – thus denying them access to education on their talent and merit.

You can find the background to this in an essay posted on Politicsweb by James Myburgh, ‘Race quotas: The terrible power of ‘demographic representivity’. Here is the relevant extract:

The impact of events in Germany were felt even in South Africa where Hendrik Verwoerd, then editor of Die Transvaler, published an extensive essay in October 1937 on the “The Jewish Question from the National Party standpoint.” In this he argued that: “Legislation must gradually but purposefully ensure that each section of the population [Jews, Afrikaners and English] should, as far as practicable, enjoy a share of each of the major occupations, according to its proportion of the white population.”

So the Verwoerdian quotas which Enoch Godongwana advocates with such passion – a passion which the African National Congress obviously shares because it has never denounced Godongwana for these views, or distanced itself from them – has unspeakably evil origins. Those origins are the antithesis of what Nelson Mandela called for when he testified from the dock in the Rivonia trial:

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.”

Kirk’s sentiment was, in terms of education, subsequently given credence by Wits University academic, Professor Rabelani Dagada but, while Kohler Barnard has been relentless demonised by the ANC, it has singularly failed to censure Dagada. Could that be because he is male and not white? Dagada’s sentiments were subsequently echoed by Statistician-General Pali Lehohla and Jonathan Jansen and again the ANC was silent. They are, after all, also male and not white.

Continued persecution

P W Botha

The ANC’s continued persecution of Dianne Kohler Barnard for a hasty Facebook post about P W Botha, which she did not author and for which she has since apologised, while at the same time remaining silent about Enoch Godongwana’s promotion of Adolf Hitler’s racial policies – as reflected by Hendrik Verwoerd – makes its hypocrisy and double standards obvious.

The ANC has called for Kohler Barnard to be fined half a million rand knowing that she cannot afford that amount on her salary as an MP

The ANC also welcomed a fine of R150 000 levied against Penny Sparrow who has gone into hiding after her life was threatened.

It took no such action, however, against its member of parliament, Bongani Mkongi who called for Democratic Alliance members to be burnt to death. Mokongi only took down his race-hate Facebook post after he was instructed to do so by former ANC chief whip Stone Sizani.

By his own admission, the only sanction that he has suffered is that the ANC has “called him to task.”

Suitably encouraged by the ANC’s leniency, Mkongi said: “I am not going to be censored. I speak what I like.” He remains a member of the ANC and a member of parliament. Again, the race-motivated and driven hypocrisy is nauseating.

Sharply etched

The difference between the manufactured outrage against Kohler Barnard and the ANC’s silence over the far more injurious statements of Enoch Godongwana is also sharply etched and unsurprisingly so.

Kohler Barnard has never been implicated in any form of corruption and has never done anything to disadvantage people from lower income groups but she has been relentlessly vilified by the ANC for a Facebook post.

In stark contrast, Godongwana suffered absolutely no consequences as a result of the appalling and morally reprehensible Canyon Springs scam which will see textile industry employees spending their twilight years in penury.

Perhaps Mantashe should explain what the ANC hopes to gain my persecuting Barnard because the party’s constantly-manifest antipathy towards the white minority, its constant playing of the race card, did not resonate with more than a million black voters who turned to the Democratic Alliance during the recent municipal election.

Struggle veteran Denis Goldberg articulated one of the reasons for this voter alienation in an interview with John Matisonn. He said that the Democratic Alliance had, during the recent election, assumed the mantle of non-racialism which had once, but no longer, distinguished the generation of the ANC led by Nelson Mandela. He accused the ANC of, in contrast, practising “social discohesion”.

He went one further, accusing the ANC of following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the National Party. So if Gwede Mantashe feels that Dianne Kohler Barnard should be fined half a million rand for passing on someone else’s views about governance under P W Botha being better than our current situation, then the following extract from the Goldberg interview provides him with prima facie evidence to have Goldberg fined double the amount he hopes to impoverish Kohler Barnard by.

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe briefs the media at the end of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) three-day meeting in Pretoria, South Africa March 20, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe

In the interview Goldberg accuses his own party of emulating the racism and corruption of its predecessors.

At 19:23 of the interview he says:

And I have to say its (corruption) been embedded in our society since the English settlers took over and did very well out of the exploitation of our people, the land, its resources of every kind.

In 1948 a new group of whites, Afrikaners, joined them – in racism by law. Well, in 1994 a new group joined them and did exactly the same thing – except we haven’t learned how to cover up what we are doing – in misappropriating funds.

Vengeful cruelty

The fact that the African National Congress is pursuing two white women with such vengeful cruelty while remaining silent about the appalling behaviour of two black men, Godongwana and Mokongi, in an equivalent context reveals the real attitude of a political party which is characterised by pervasive patriarchy.

The fact that it has taken no action against Enoch Godongwana who has been instrumental in impoverishing thousands of textile workers tells you everything you need to know about the ANC’s contempt for the poor and the extent to which it has become just another African kleptocracy.

Prior to the recent election, the ANC, aided and abetted by its race merchants, scaled up its anti-white rhetoric to almost manic levels.

President Jacob Zuma said:

“No other party can govern this country… not even a white party with stooges. The ANC must win back Cape Town and make sure transformation reaches that part as well… Cape Town is a tale of two cities, where the needs of rich are prioritised those of the poor are not… the ANC will work hard to win Cape Town.”

Gwede Mantshe’s venomous vendetta against Dianne Kohler Barnard is simply a continuation of that message which is the antithesis of what Nelson Mandela stood for – unity in diversity and nation building through reconciliation.

The biggest voting bloc in the Western Cape has emphatically rejected the ANC’s neo-apartheid job-reservation policy, a policy which Fikile Mbalula is using to deny South Africa the opportunity to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, a policy which was emphatically rejected by the world community at a recent United Nations meeting.

As Helen Zille said:

Despite the polarisation, all the race-baiting, all the intolerance that has been shown in our country over the last year, the people spoke and said they wanted a united, non-racial shared future and that is enormously powerful.”

Gwede Mantashe could well find that his hypocritical, ethnically-based persecution of a political opponent loses his party even more supporters in the 2019 election.

His attempt to impoverish her is nothing new for the ANC however.

A month prior to the 2014 national election, Tony Ehrenreich, for once, clearly articulated what the ANC stood for. Ehrenreich, who did not publicly distance himself from Bongani Mkongi’s call for all whites to be burnt to death or from a similar call made at a Cosatu news conference in Kleinmond on 10 January 2002, stated that he saw it as his bounden duty as an ANC politician to put as many white civil servants – and their families – working for the Cape Provincial Administration on the streets as possible.

Tony Ehrenreich. Pic: Twitter @volksbladnuus
Tony Ehrenreich

His actual words were:

“Their employment would have to be terminated – and within a year.”

Strangely enough, Gwede Mantashe did not call for Ehrenreich to be criminally prosecuted for hate speech and fined half a million rand plus court costs but he might reconsider now that Ehrenreich suddenly seeks to exculpate himself by jumping on the ant-Zuma bandwagon.

Given the way in which, with his enthusiastic endorsement, the ANC is hunting down Dianne Kohler Barnard, perhaps he can explain why – and why, effectively, the ANC finds Hendrik Verwoerd more to their liking than P W Botha.

  • Ed Herbst is a pensioner and former reporter who writes in his own capacity.
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