South Africa needs federalism

There are two recent events clearly demonstrating that the South African constitution does not work to govern a highly complex, multiethnic and even multinational society.

The first is the recent hullabaloo over the Afrikaner community of Kleinfontein, east of Pretoria, and the second is the consistent hostility towards Afrikaans-only schools displayed by the Gauteng education department.

What threat do the thousand Christian Afrikaners living peacefully in Kleinfontein pose to the City of Tshwane, which has a land area the size of Luxembourg and millions of inhabitants?

Kleinfontein is no different to any other gated community in the country, except that it is not built in a pseudo-Tuscan style, does not sport some nonsensical Mediterranean name and signs are not posted in English.

It resembles the German concept of a Sprachinsel, or ” language island”, meant to conserve the beleaguered Afrikaans language.

The people of Kleinfontein do not aspire to exoticism; they have simply dared to be themselves. They live together in a self-sufficient community, like thousands of other communities in rural parts of South Africa.

In fact, the president lives in just such a Zulu community at Nkandla, enjoying his own language and culture. Why is it acceptable to be Zulu or pseudo-Italian, but not Afrikaans?

While the ruling party, the African National Congress, wants dialogue with Kleinfontein, the English, assimilationist Democratic Alliance has displayed great hostility to the community in its own affirmation of democratic centralism.

Even the former Soviet Union did not practic e the same level of statist interference in education as the Gauteng education department under MEC Barbara Creecy does, bullying a school such as Fochville Hoërskool into accepting English children who are deliberately bussed in.

Fochville is the only Afrikaans high school in a vast area and Anglicising it by fiat constitutes a form of ethnic belligerence that boggles the mind.

The department’s ill-disguised language chauvinism is camouflaged by predictable accusations of racism levelled at the school, which already has happy black pupils enjoying quality education in Afrikaans.

We desperately need a federal or confederal system to end the abuse of power characterising this Leninist “democracy” at all levels.