Zuma likely to visit Orania

By Carien Du Plessis

The private Afrikaner enclave of Orania is likely to host a meeting with ANC president Jacob Zuma in the near future.

Zuma would be the first ANC president to visit the town, about 150km from Kimberley, since former president Nelson Mandela came to enjoy tea and koeksisters with Betsie Verwoerd, widow of former prime minister and Apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd.

The president of the local Orania Beweging Carel Boshoff told Weekend Argus that a delegation from Orania went to see Zuma at his home in Johannesburg, in January.

Their meeting was "exceptionally constructive" and they found Zuma to be a good listener, said Boshoff, a FF+ MPL for the Northern Cape.

Zuma later told the FF+ that he would like to visit Orania before the elections.

Boshoff was one of the local leaders who hosted ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's visit to Orania amidst a strong police and media presence yesterday.

Malema and his delegation, who joked they initially feared being shot at by residents, were taken for a quick town tour.

A two-hour meeting included Boshoff's father, Carel Boshoff, locally known as "Oom Carel", who was one of the founders of the town and who was married to Verwoerd's daughter, Anna, until her death in 2007; FF+ deputy president Francois Slabber and Orania Movement chairman Frans de Klerk.

Local leaders said before-hand that they had not known what to expect after what they had heard in the news about Malema.

They said they wanted the government to recognise Orania, which has its own currency - the Ora, as an independent community with its own decision-making powers, something they think a Zuma government may be sympathetic to.

Malema, however, told the meeting that the ANC would like to see Afrikaners, including those from Orania, integrate with the rest of South Africa to share their culture and skills, while maintaining their own identity.

During the meeting Malema drew on the Afrikaners' historic hatred of the English colonisers, saying each community must still strive to keep their own culture.

"We all know that the colonisers have divided us and even imposed their language on some of us.

"We can't even communicate with each other in our mother tongue, but have to use the language of those who took over our land," he said.

He told the leaders they could vote FF+, but that after elections they were part of South Africa and the ruling party was obliged to service them, too.

Boshoff, however, said the residents of Orania, which gets services like hospitals and police from Hopetown, wanted to remain an independent community, willing to integrate with the rest of the country only in a federal way.

After the meeting, Malema's delegation added ANC posters to the FF+ posters adorning lamp posts in town, saying they had the right to campaign anywhere.

Although there are some DA voters in town, only FF+ posters were up in Orania before the ANC came.

One of the FF+'s less stated objectives is to obtain a volkstaat (nation state) for Afrikaans-speaking people of common cultural heritage.

The Orania community bought the 430ha town for R1.6 million in 1991 from the Department of Water Affairs, which had built the town to house Vanderkloof Dam construction workers.

They have since added 2 500ha of agricultural land to the town.

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