The majority of South Africa’s history since 1945 involves Afrikaner Nationalists and Apartheid. Inspired by the Nazi’s, several far-right Afrikaner groups were founded in South Africa and gained strengh during the early years of the war. In 1948, the National Party took power after uniting the Afrikaner far-right under one party. Groups like the AWB sought a white only state, and thought the National Party was not extreme enough, but knew the only way to get power would be to support the National Party. The National Party went on to implement the Apartheid system which was essentially instituionalized racial segreation, and has become a model of an ideal society for many far-right white supremacists around the world. Parties like the African National Congress fought against the National Party, which often led to violence. It was not until 1994 that South Africa truly became free when Nelson Mandela was elected president. However, the effects of Apartheid can still be seen all over South Africa as the majority of black people still live in poverty. In recent years, many white South Africans have begun to feel that their race is being threatened, with some even preparing for a full on war. While white people, and more specifically, Afrikaners make up a very small percentage of South Africa’s population, they still have power and Afrikaner Nationalism is on the rise once again.
Despite Apartheid ending over 20 years ago, white nationalism still has a prescence in South African politics. White Afrikaners are a minority in South Africa, and many of them feel threatened. Since the end of Apartheid, the ANC (African National Congress) has controlled South Africa, but in recent years the party has become increasingly corrupt and no longer represents the same ideals that it did under Nelson Mandela. In response to these issues, white Nationalism is slowly creeping its way back into mainstream politics. The Freedom Front Plus Party is the most recent white nationalist party in South Africa to see some success in an election. The party gains support from Afrikaners by creating an idea that Afrikaners are being threatened directly by the ANC who blame white South African’s for their problems and say that the Afrikaners stole all the land from the black people during Apartheid. In the 2019 election, they vocally advocated against black economic empowerment and employment equity, as well as criticized the plan to redistribute land in South Africa without compensation (Dirk Kotze). Overall, the party is a right-wing populist party that strongly believes in the idea of Afrikaner nationalism, economic liberalism, and social and national conservatism. Like many other far right groups, the Freedom Front Plus also has a youth group where they “educate” young white South Africans on the issues facing them. While the AWB still exists, they have been quieter in recent years as they have established a small white only town known as Orania. While they have not been very active politically, they are still a fairly significant group. With the recent killing of white farmers around South Africa, the AWB has been seeking help from other countries, including Russia (Benita Van Eyssen). They still represent a neo-nazi, white supremacist platform, but choose to rather live in isolation now.
In addition to this “white” far-right, there is also a smaller black far-right in South Africa. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was initially created to focus primarily on the interests of the Zulu people. The group soon became an opposition to the ANC, but it never grew nearly as large. Nearing the end of Apartheid, and just after, there was a lot of black on black violence between Zulu IFP members and non-Zulu ANC members. Their main policies are anti-communism, federalism, economic liberalism, and most importantly, Zulu nationalism. The party is becoming increasingly violent due to the large amounts of migrants entering South Africa and nothing being done to stop them. In addition to this, the party has said that they aim to end the AIDS crisis in South Africa, deal with the unemployment and poverty rates, and reduce the ANC’s power (SAHO).
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema. While the EFF represents the far left, their actions seem closer to the far-right. They believe in communism and Marxism, and are considered to be a left-wing socialist party. Members all wear red berets and are predominantly black males (SAHO). They are a very vocal party and are growing at a fast rate, which may eventually pose a threat to the far-right, white parties. No one really knows what the EFF is capable of, but Malema has made comments on multiple occasions that he would like to see the roles in South Africa reversed where white people become the domestic workers and black people have the power. He does not think the Afrikaners should be sent away, but rather the whites should “share the cake” (Malema, IOL). Many believe that Malema might be responsible for the gangs murdering white farmers, but he has not clearly denied or confirmed the allegations.
There is an interesting dynamic in South Africa as “[they have a] policy of tolerance and non-interference in the affairs of other nations which makes it everybody’s friend and a non-target…but…such a position could make the country a hub for terrorist groups to find sanctuary” (Isilow). The AWB was mentioned previously as a political party with minor success, however it also functions as a notable extremist group that has been present since 1973. They have been known to become violent in cases such as the Battle of Ventersdorp as well as smaller scale incidents such as murders and threats of journalists as well as members of the opposition.
The Suidlanders are another extremist group in South Africa that boasts large numbers and poses a great threat. They are “white nationalists prepping for a genocide doomsday in the “rainbow nation (a term coined by Nelson Mandela)” (Bartlett). In simpler terms, they are a group of whites fearing the impending “white genocide” as they see it. So, they are prepared with bunkers full of emergency supplies, weapons, and connections with other nations that they hope will prove beneficial when needed. They hope that all of these tools will help them to be ready for what is essentially a race war that they see on the horizon in which they fear that the black majority will turn on them to capture their land. The Suidlanders contend that this race war has already begun, and that they are simply “a civil defence group who are only escaping imminent slaughter, but are prepared to fight and die doing so” (Roche). They plead with mainstream media worldwide in the hopes of spreading their cause, and have been known to be violent in cases of vigilante justice and small gang violence.
A newer trend of extremism in South Africa is the recruitment of men and women to Daesh (aka ISIS.) This is a group originally out of Syria and Iraq with the goal of returning to the original state of Islam as opposed to the “corrupted” version as they see it today. There is a bit of debate as to whether or not the presence of Daesh in South Africa is notable at this point as some say that “South African Muslims don’t support ISIS (Daesh) at all. What we are hearing is a mere speculation” (Isilow). On the other hand though, there are some incidents that have happened in recent years that seem to tell a different story. In Durban, South Africa, 11 men were recently accused of attacking a Shia Mosque. In addition, they were accused of placing bombs in a shopping mall, and of being inspired by Daesh teachings (Isilow). Moreover, “in 2016, a young girl from Cape Town was taken off a flight heading to Turkey where she was going to transit to Syria and join the group (Daesh)” (Els). These two specific examples along with a few other incidents of stabbings or the placement of bombs do seem to show a potential threat to South Africa by an extremist group, though it may not be very widespread yet.
Global Influence: AWB receives most of its funding and support from within the group as members fundraise and often donate to the cause itself. The Suidlanders actually get a lot of support from other civilized countries, and more specifically, they happen to see President Trump as a great ally. Trump has tweeted about the issues that this group fears while vowing to look into the “the large scale killing of farmers” (MaKenzie and Swails). “Similarly, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton wanted to expedite visas for “persecuted” white South African farmers” (MaKenzie and Swails). They have also been given support from Russia as they have been told that white South African people will be offered sanctuary there in the case of a “white genocide.” Also, Roche, a leader of the Suidlanders, has traveled to the U.S. in order to lobby support, and has even met with Richard Spencer (a famous white nationalist,) and David Duke (the notorious leader of the Ku Klux Klan.) Financially speaking, they function similarly to AWB as most of their funds come from inside the group. Both AWB and the Suidilanders have been greatly influenced by the days of apartheid as it is essential to their views. Without apartheid, they may not have had any instances of this type of segregation to look to as an “ideal” for the future. Daesh (or ISIS as it may be better known) has grown to reach essentially every corner of the globe. They recruit and receive support worldwide as people travel from far away to train with Daesh leaders and carry out their bidding, even at the cost of their own lives at times. However, they are not supported by any civilized countries, and therefore do not seem to have allies in the way that the Suidilanders do.