Atkinson: South Africa future depends on respect of human rights

Janice ATKINSON MEP OPINION

I am holding the debate on Tuesday, 30th January at 5pm on human rights and the political situation in South Africa after visiting that wonderful country a number of times and being disturbed about the political situation that could see that country descend into chaos after their general elections in 2019.

I witnessed ‘Black Monday’ on my last visit where farmers came together to protest against the brutal murder and torture on farmers, their families and their workers, both black and white. These brutal killings, some encouraged by Marxist political leaders who want to nationalise the banks and mines and forcibly take control of the winelands and farms, are truly horrific. Yet no real statistics are kept by the government, numbers are disputed by the state against the victims. Rapes are off the scale – 41,000 in 2015/16.  What South Africa and the EU’s Sweden have in common is they are at the top of the league table as the rape capitals of the world.

I toured the townships, the winelands, went on safari in two regions, toured the Cape and spoke to many people, black and white. All are very afraid (and optimistic) about their future.  From the woman that lives in a one room shack without running water or a toilet, who lives with her three grown sons, who still votes for the ANC because it is the party of Nelson Mandela. Her faith is interesting.  I am not sure the dream of the Rainbow Nation living together in peace as really reached her or the murdered farmers.

I saw wonderful projects where vineyard businesses were housing, educating and employing whole families from the townships.  Many of my drivers were young, ambitious family men who were grateful for the opportunities afforded to them. This is black and white working together.

But that could all change in eighteen months time.

At the last election the ANC secured 60% of the vote (249 seats in parliament), although their constitution only allows for parties to hold 50% of power (but how can you go against the votes of the people?). The official opposition is the Democratic Alliance with 89 seats in parliament and chillingly, third is the violent Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who advocate wholesale nationalisation, black empowerment by seizure of land and assets and violence against the whites and other minorities.  

As the ANC loses support, many of their supporters are turning to the EFF. On a more positive note some of them are also turning to the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) party (4 seats) because this party seeks to protect the rights of minorities (amongst other policies). Black minority tribes want to preserve their heritage, culture and language and they see the FF+ as the party to secure those rights.  As in Europe, we on the centre right fight to preserve our culture, heritage, language and identity through securing our borders and having the right to determine who can live in our countries.

If this country descends into chaos in 2019 the winelands will be lost, tourism will dry up, the ecosystems of the coast, sea and the conservation projects in the safari lands will be destroyed.  Everything that the EU says it holds dear will descend into another Zimbabwe, but worse.

Last November, when I returned from my last trip to South Africa, I called on the European Parliament to debate the human rights atrocities and political situation in South Africa. It was declined. I turned to my colleagues and said, this place tries to pride itself on upholding human rights and the rule of law. Unfortunately, the Parliament only recognises certain countries’ humans’ rights when it is safe to condemn individual countries or persons for political reasons. But for a country like South Africa where they are desperate to believe in the Rainbow Nation, to think that those now in power, the unfortunate legacy of Nelson Mandela, it is too difficult and ideologically impossible to question its future, its human rights abuses and the lack of rule of law.

Image: courtesy Janice Atkinson in South Africa,  Franschhoek Wine Valley.

Conference SA

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