AfriForum to oppose court application by Nelson Mandela Foundation to ban old flag

The civil rights organisation AfriForum will oppose the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s (NMF’s) court application that aims to have the old South African flag declared hate speech and banned. This follows the NMF adding AfriForum as respondent to their court application. In opposing the case, AfriForum will make submissions to show that the same arguments of the NMF could also be used to have the flags of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the ANC banned.

Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, explains that AfriForum does not use the old flag and that the organisation opposes the court application simply on the basis of healthy legal principles and a plea for consistency.

“The NMF argues that the flag is offensive and should therefore be banned. Offensiveness is not a sufficient reason to have a symbol banned, however. In fact, the core of freedom of speech is seated in people sometimes being confronted with offensive viewpoints.”

Referring to AfriForum’s viewpoint that the NMF’s arguments could also lead to the banning of the ANC or SACP’s flags, Roets explains that communist leaders like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, honoured as heroes by ANC loyalists, waged murder campaigns against their opponents.

“It is estimated that 100 million people from all over the world died in the name of communism. Even in South Africa more people were killed in the name of communism and the ANC and SACP’s people’s war against rival black organisations, compared to the number of people killed in the name of apartheid. For every person killed by the government of the day during apartheid, about 30 people died in the name of the people’s war.”

“The exact same arguments that the NMF employ to argue why the old flag should be banned, could therefore be used to ban the SACP or even the ANC’s flag,” Roets explains. “However, this is not the correct way to react to offensiveness.”

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