Above all, it recognises as a foundational value the right to human dignity which is inextricably interlinked with the cultural, language and religious identities of citizens. It establishes the equality of all our communities and prohibits unfair discrimination by anyone inter alia on the basis of language, race or culture.

Little remains of this multi-cultural constitutional vision:

The problem is that in matters relating to culture, language and heritage the ANC is guided by the precepts of its National Democratic Revolution – and not by the Constitution.  According to the ANC, relationships between South Africa’s communities are part of what it calls ‘the National Question’. In a 2005 policy document, the ANC observed that “the national question around the world, far from being solved, is raising its head in an unimaginably barbaric manner”.

It went on to point out that “the lesson for South Africa is that we dare not ignore the national question in our own country”. It then succinctly summarised its own position: “In the South African context, the national question is not principally about the rights of minorities or ethnically motivated grievances (this statement is not intended to diminish the importance of the rights of minorities). It is, in fact, principally about the liberation of the African people.”

Elsewhere the ANC states that, in considering “the identity of the South African nation in the making” … “what is required is a continuing battle to assert African hegemony in the context of a multi-cultural and non-racial society.” The ANC insists that “the affirmation of our Africanness as a nation has nothing to do with the domination of one culture or language by another – it is recognition of a geographic reality and the awakening of a consciousness which colonialism suppressed”. In fact, hegemony has only one meaning: it means domination – and it is irreconcilable with the notion of unity in diversity and the principles of equality and human dignity upon which our Constitution is founded.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation