Racial laws must stop – the time is now


Dear Pres. Ramaphosa

I am sitting here on a flight on my way to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. In my suitcase is a list with the names of tens of thousands of ordinary people who fly together. We have to fly from our country abroad to get help there, because in our country your government and some treat us like second-class citizens.

On Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 November we appear before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). We are going to challenge your government’s racial policy again on an international forum. Your government is also going to be there to defend your stifling racial ideology.

I have to fly 8,000 km away to sue you, because in South Africa I am a second-class white citizen. Your government flies 8,000 km to defend your race obsession. I’m sitting here writing in economics class; your deputy minister sits in the front of the plane in business class and drinks champagne, paid for with my tax money, to defend discrimination against me.

Our feet are firmly in Africa. Africa is in our language’s name, Afrikaans, and in our community’s name, Afrikaners. We are not going anywhere and neither you nor your government will determine where we may live and work in our country. You are not going to determine our future based on how we look, because we will.

That’s why we fight your racism in workplaces, courts and international forums. That is why we build a future for our children, a technical college, schools, a university and more. We will be here long after your party is in power. Don’t expect us to talk – this is not our story in Africa.

We do not think for a moment that our salvation lies with the UN. The UN is indeed a weapon in our arsenal. It is also a global platform to expose what the ANC is.

Eighteen experts from eighteen different countries serve in the UN’s CERD. They sit in a horseshoe with you sitting in the middle and then you can present your complaint. After that they cross-examine you. The proceedings are interpreted and broadcast in several languages. It is therefore a global platform where our voice will be heard.

We are going to show the world that your government has passed 116 racial laws in South Africa since 1994. We are going to tell them about the law you recently signed that gives draconian powers to the Minister of Employment and Labour. We are going to show them the racially insane regulations that have been published for comment that seek to impose racial quotas on every sector. We are going to show them how colored and Indian workers will have to move from the provinces where they live because there are too many of them where they are. We are going to tell the committee how you used race in the Covid-19 era to determine which businesses can receive aid and how you use race as a criterion for the allocation of water rights and to obtain export permits.

Your government is going to be on trial again. The last time we were there, we were accused of disloyalty. The word treason was even used. I am here on the plane because of your government’s disloyalty to my people, citizens of your country. Your policy is a betrayal of all people who are victims of the implosion of the state.

You act if you still have the moral high ground in the world. You think you can still draw from the moral fountain of Nelson Mandela. Already in 2016, after Solidarity’s presentation, CERD made recommendations that were critical of your government’s policy of racial discrimination. The South African Human Rights Commission subsequently issued a report and said that South Africa does not comply with international conventions.

Solidarity then lodged a follow-up complaint with the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO declared our complaint admissible. This led to mediation and the reaching of an agreement which placed certain restrictions on your racial policy. This agreement was made an order of the court.

It was a breakthrough in the racial struggle. However, the battle is not over. At this session of CERD, we are going to take it further. We demand that all racial laws must stop – the time is now!

We ask this, not only out of loyalty to minorities oppressed by your government, but out of loyalty to all South African citizens (apart from the cadre elite) who are paying the price for your racial ideology.

Your racial policy resulted in tens of thousands of skilled people having to leave the public service, that skills and institutional knowledge were lost on a large scale, that race and cadres, instead of merit, determine appointments to this day.

So we are going to stand up in Geneva for everyone whose power has been cut off, for the pregnant woman who has to lie on the floor of a state hospital, for the thousands of citizens who suffer damage due to potholes, for the tragic victims of crime, for the unemployed who the price paid for economic sabotage, for businesses that had to close due to looting from Transnet and others. Your racial policy has enriched cadres and impoverished millions of citizens.

This is what the world needs to know. This is what we are going to tell the world.

For the sake of the country, stop your racial madness! It’s been a long time coming, but it’s definitely now!

Dirk Hermann

Chief Executive: Solidarity