The brandy and coke approach
Despite sporadic talk of Eugene Terre’Blanche’s murder triggering a civil war, analysts say the AWB is too weak to pose a significant national threat.
“The AWB was a moribund organisation even before their leader was killed,” said Aubrey Matshiqi, senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Studies. “It is highly unlikely that any new political grouping with the capacity to destabilise the country will come to the fore.”
But Matshiqi cautioned that “this does not mean there is nothing to worry about”. He said: “Let us not forget that Chris Hani was killed by fringe forces.”
Professor Albert Grundling, of the history department at the University of Stellenbosch, said the AWB is too disorganised to rally a strong military force. “One only has to think of the AWB’s pathetic effort to occupy Bophuthatswana in 1992. To put it crudely, the group has too much of a brandy and coke approach to be a serious political force.”
But it is possible that a few people could take things into their own hands, Grundling said. He recalled Johan Nel, the then 19-year-old who, in 2008, went on a racial shooting spree in the North West informal settlement of Skierlik, leaving four dead and 14 injured.
“There could be pockets of AWB members across the country,” he said. But the organisation “has always been more about posturing — There is a decided lack of sharp military brains in their midst.”
Kees van der Waal, a sociology and anthropology professor at Stellenbosch University, warned that the killing of Terre’Blanche could alienate some white South Africans who are battling to survive economically as farmers and who still resent their loss of political power.
He said such people could turn to the AWB because of its outward displays of symbolic power, such as old flags and military insignia on uniforms.
Judith February of Idasa said South Africa faces a far greater threat than any posed by the AWB. The huge numbers of unemployed, mostly black and marginalised people constitute a “ticking time bomb and we need proper dialogue about this”, she said.