The ANC has called Cosatu's bluff before.
The spike in advocacy against a so-called “white genocide” in South Africa can be traced to a co-ordinated campaign by right-wing group the Suidlanders to bolster international support for white South Africans.
The group, who describe themselves as “an emergency plan initiative” to prepare a Protestant Christian South African minority for a coming violent revolution, has met various extremist alt-right groups and their influential media contacts in the United States to build up global opposition to the purported persecution of white people in South Africa.
The Suidlanders believe a race war is inevitable and have spent years preparing for it. The group’s membership was first reported to have swelled after the murder of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugène Terre’blanche. Then it was the death of former president Nelson Mandela that was meant to trigger the war.
Although this never transpired, now it is the murder of white farmers that the Suidlanders have seized on as a signal of the seeds of a plan to exterminate white people.
The decision by Parliament this month to support a motion to review the possibility of changing the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation has brought into sharp focus how a calculated campaign to influence right-wing media is shaping some Western government decisions.
Last week, Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp publication The Daily Telegraph that he was considering fast-tracking visas for white South African farmers, who he said needed to flee “horrific circumstances” for a “civilised country”. He said the farmers “deserve special attention” because of land seizures and violence.
He stood by his comments this week, insisting that opposition has come from “crazy lefties”, who “are dead to me”.
The plight of white South African farmers had already been placed on the news agenda in Australia by two News Corp columnists, Miranda Devine and Caroline Marcus. Apart from entreating the Australian government to fast-track immigration for white South Africans, these columnists repeated a narrative that has grown popular in extreme rightwing publications — South African whites are under attack.
This narrative, fostered in fringe alt-right publications in the US and repeated in the Murdoch-owned mainstream press, has had a direct influence on the utterances of a senior Australian politician.
But it is not only in Australia where the alt-right media narrative is influencing politicians. There has also been more focus on white South African farmers in Europe, with right-wing politicians who have direct links to the alt-right in the US, calling on the European Parliament to intervene in South Africa. Anti-refugee political players in the United Kingdom have also been linked to the cause.
The centring of South Africa in the alt-right agenda can be traced to a Suidlanders tour of the US last year.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian on Thursday, Simon Roche, the spokesperson for the Suidlanders, said the promulgation of the message of South Africa’s “white genocide” to Europe and Australia could be directly attributed to his group’s protracted tour of the US last year.
He said some local government politicians and even some mayors in Australia have contacted the Suidlanders and offered to assist with funding and lawyers to process their refugee applications.
But Roche stressed that the Suidlanders are not interested in leaving South Africa. “We have no interest in immigration.”
He said, although the campaign to raise money in the US was not very successful — “we never made a breakthrough to high-powered guys with big bucks” — the response from the American and Canadian right-wing media was good.
Roche and fellow Suidlander member André Coetzee went to the US for what was meant to be a three-week whistle-stop tour but it ended up going on from March to September. They lobbied various alt-right groups, including people who have been publicly described as Nazis, fascists, racists, white supremacists, homophobes, anti-Semitic, anti-feminist and conspiracy theorists. Some have served time in jail for racial assaults and others regularly advocate violence in defence of whites.
These include the likes of David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, a Republican state representative and an avid US President Donald Trump supporter, and David Spencer, a Nazi sympathiser, who coined the term “alt-right” to attract a new generation of right-wing supporters.
This network has allowed the Suidlanders to spread its message of “white genocide” around the world.
On one US radio show, Roche admitted that the first thing the group did after arriving there was to contact 938 Christian organisations, although they received just three responses. But the extended trip suggests the response from the US’s alt-right more than made up for it.
When Roche finally returned home, he described his US trip as “very blessed”.
“There are some old oomies in the US who know who the Suidlanders are and what the Suidlanders represent,” he said, while bemoaning the treatment of Trump in the US and nationalists the world over.
On September 14 last year, the Suidlanders Twitter account posted a link to a YouTube video of a report-back that Roche gave to the faithful at OR Tambo International Airport. In it, he announced that the group would be joining forces with a global grouping of the right.
“Suidlanders are working with some people to form a global forum for nationalists. This is a big thing that terrifies the powers that be,” he said.
He claimed the data drives that he sent home via UPS had been confiscated by the state, before declaring that the Suidlanders are “at the heart” of this global nationalist forum, which will convene for the first time later this year.
Roche this week said the forum would meet in June, and that he is working with lawyer William Johnson from the American Freedom Party, formerly known as the American Third Position.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), in 1985, Johnson proposed a constitutional amendment that would revoke the American citizenship of every non-white inhabitant of the US.
The SPLC is an nongovernmental organisation based in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a legal advocacy group specialising in civil rights and hate speech.
Brian Dube, the spokesperson for the department of state security, said the department was taking notice of the rise of white nationalist activity as part of its mandate to look at “national stability in its various manifestations”.
The Suidlanders had previously been linked to attempts to sabotage the 2010 World Cup.
The alt-right players
Billy Roper – The Roper Report
On March 9 2017, right-winger Billy Roper published an opinion piece, “Suidlanders (A South African ShieldWall Network)”, on his website, The Roper Report.
In it he says a “white genocide” is taking place in South Africa and praises the Suidlanders for their civil-war contingency planning — which Americans should be doing.
Brad Griffin, Michael Hill and the League of the South
Griffin is the public relations officer for the League of the South (LOS), a right-wing group based in Killen, Alabama. He is also the news editor of Alt-Right.com.
On March 16 last year, Griffin, under his pseudonym Hunter Wallace, published an article on Occidental Dissent.com headlined “URGENT: Suidlanders reach out to Americans to stop South African white genocide”. “They are in the United States on a speaking tour to raise awareness about the rapidly worsening situation for whites in South Africa,” he wrote.
Griffin writes that he is well versed in the white genocide situation in South Africa and, before being contacted by the Suidlanders, had already called for President Donald Trump to intervene.
On March 25, LOS president Michael Hill wrote an article with the headline “The situation in white South Africa”. According to him, the Suidlanders were in the US to secure funds for diesel and other fuels, medicine, water treatment, shelter, communications equipment, women’s and children’s needs, the needs of the elderly, and every other vital necessity for civilian noncombatants.
Henrik Palmgreen and Red Ice TV
On March 31, Roche appeared on Henrik Palmgren’s Red Ice TV, which often hosts Holocaust deniers. Roche claimed on the show that it’s deadlier to be a white farmer in South Africa than it is to be a police officer.
“It’s a fact that the murder of white farmers in South Africa is double the rate of murder of policemen,” he said.
Jared Taylor and American Renaissance
“South African whites prepare for anarchy” was the headline on Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance podcast on March 15 last year .
Simon Roche, the spokesperson for the Suidlanders, who was interviewed for the podcast, told Taylor that the Suidlanders anticipate a “race-based civil war” and states: “When the bubble bursts, it’s going to be quite a messy affair.”
Roche was also a guest speaker at the 15th American Renaissance conference held in July last year, sharing a platform with people such as Peter Brimelow and Richard Spencer, the founders of the right-wing websites Vdare.com and Alt-Right.com respectively.
Alex Jones and InfoWars
Alex Jones, as far as American conspiracy theorists go, has the “most far-reaching influence” in US history.
Both David Knight, who joined InfoWars in 2012, and Jones have featured the Suidlanders on their shows, Real News with David Knight and The Alex Jones Show.
WorldNet News, the brainchild of Joseph Farah, published nine articles on the subject of “white genocide” or the Suidlanders between March and August 2017.
Unite the Right march
On August 11 and 12 last year, Roche was present at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in Virginia, where clashes broke out between white nationalists, although he has stressed he was only an observer.
But he has defended the white nationalists’ behaviour on various media shows in the US, arguing that the media was falsely reporting what had happened.
What Roche says
When the Mail & Guardian spoke to Roche, he said, before the Suidlanders left for the US, he did some Google searches for members of the right in the US and their contacts.
But he denied knowing that some of the people he had extensive contact with had been in jail for racially linked assaults.