Panyaza Lesufi, the deputy chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng, has questioned why the whites-only town of Orania still exists.
Lesufi shared photos of Orania’s currency and flag on Twitter on Monday and said the Northern Cape town is “a betrayal of our call for a truly nonracial South Africa.”
“This is money used in our country only by people who speak a certain language. They also have their own flag and laws. If you think we will keep quiet you are wrong. This madness must come to end. It’s a betrayal of our call for a truly nonracial South Africa. #Orania,” he wrote.
Lesufi similarly spoke out against Orania during an event to honour the late ANC struggle stalwart, Harry Gwala, on Sunday.
He said, “We understand why that institution was established. It has lived its time now. It’s now that that place must be liberated and all South Africans must be allowed to stay wherever they want to stay. We don’t say we want to stay with them but you can’t have an institution that is established on the basis of language or on the basis of a colour of a skin.”
Orania was established in 1991 by a group of Afrikaners who wished to “preserve their culture.” The land on which it sits is owned by a company called Vluytjeskraal Aandeleblok (Vluytjeskraal Share Block).
The town’s population was more than 1,600 as of 2018. People who wish to live there have to buy shares in Vluytjeskraal Aandeleblok, which allows for screening and imposition of tight controls. One of Orania’s leaders, Carel Boshoff, is a grandson of apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd.
Lesufi sparks debate
Lesufi’s Twitter post sparked intense debate among his followers. Among those supporting him was Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Deputy President Floyd Shivambu.
He quoted his tweet and wrote, “You’re correct [comrade] Panyaza, but also remember that the ANC CODESA compromises include a sellout position contained in the current Constitution, section 235. When we call for repeal of these sellout clauses, it’s the ANC that refuses. Orania must fall and section 235 as well.”
The section states, “The right of the South African people as a whole to self-determination, as manifested in this Constitution, does not preclude, within the framework of this right, recognition of the notion of the right of self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage, within a territorial entity in the Republic or in any other way, determined by national legislation.”
Carl Niehaus, spokesperson of MKMVA, also supported Lesufi: “Not keeping quiet is not good enough! Destroy the money, destroy the damn flag. Charge these white, #Orania ‘Boere’ for their racism, throw them in jail. If our laws are not strong enough on racism to do that, pass the necessary legislation. This nonsense cannot be tolerated.”
However, others questioned why Lesufi was “acting powerless.” “But you’re a member of the governing party, the party in power. Why are you so powerless? It’s so baffling!” wrote economist and columnist Thabi Leoka.
Twitter user @Safrinansfirst added, “Orania is what should’ve become of Black People. One Africa Project. Economy is circulating within the town. Show me one black township that has this model. There are so many lessons to draw from this project Orania. They resemble cohesiveness and oneness.”
“Please allow the people of Orania space to self-determine sir. There’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing. I also wish the Capexit to happen. There’s no country left to salvage here,” argued Tshepo Kaisa.