The new unit was formed shortly after the release of a report titled Confronting racism consistently by the minority rights movement. Several personalities who committed themselves to this unit as advisors acted as speakers at the conference and highlighted various aspects of what the unit intends to achieve.
AfriForum’s deputy chief executive Ernst Roets, who will lead the anti-racism unit, emphasised that AfriForum will fight all forms of racism and hate speech, but that the unit will also take a stand against double standards with regard to racism and hate speech.
“Our research persistently indicates that white racism is constantly aggressively condemned, while black racism is often ignored, or even defended in some cases. To fight one form of racism while accepting, defending or even promoting another form of racism, is also a form of racism,” he said.
The topics discussed by the various advisors at the conference, include:
- Dr Frans Cronje, CEO of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), showed that their research has repeatedly indicated that the vast majority of people of all races in South Africa want to live in peace with one another, but that there is a problem in the extreme poles, where racism is encouraged;
- The civil rights activist Rhoda Kadalie emphasised in her presentation that race is increasingly being used as a political weapon in South Africa;
- Adv. Mark Oppenheimer, expert in freedom of speech and hate speech, highlighted the line between freedom of speech and hate speech and gave guidelines for promoting freedom of speech while fighting hate speech; and
- Dr Llewellyn Curlewis, criminal law expert, explained the legal remedies available to citizens to fight racism.
Roets also explained a broad action plan for this unit during the conference. This includes the following:
- participation in discussions and ideas on the issue;
- consistent condemnation of racism;
- data collection and analysis;
- continuous research on racism and hate speech;
- civil litigation;
- criminal complaints;
- private prosecution; and
- international awareness.
The unit will be run by AfriForum and several role players will continuously be involved in the activities of this unit.