Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) national chairperson has become the latest member of the party to express the view that the unity South Africa is experiencing following its victory over England – resulting in the country’s third Rugby World Cup win – is fake.
“We must NOT pretend the history [and] the role of the Springboks in cementing apartheid racism doesn’t exist,” he tweeted.
The South African national side was open to whites only under apartheid. The Springboks were excluded from the first two Rugby World Cups, in 1987 and 1991, due to this as well as the apartheid system as a whole.
“As in 1995, the realities of racism [and] land dispossession CANNOT be airbrushed with fake unity [and] selective patriotism!” he added.
At the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was both hosted by and won by South Africa, then president Nelson Mandela arrived at the final wearing a replica of the shirt of skipper Francois Pienaar and a mainly white crowd chanted “Nelson, Nelson, Nelson”.
Mandela had played a role in defusing demands from within the ruling African National Congress party that the emblem of a leaping Springbok be ditched, arguing that it was an important symbol for white South Africans and should be kept in a bid to foster national unity.
Mpofu’s tweet follows similar ones from EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who caused an outcry following SA’s world cup victory by only congratulating Springboks captain Siya Kolisi in a tweet, telling the rest of the team to “go get your congratulations from Prince Harry”.
Following a backlash, Ndlozi sent out several tweets doubling down on his sentiments, and arguing that the Springboks victory was not a genuine victory for racial unity. His tweets earned the backing of his party’s leader, Julius Malema.
Mpofu, meanwhile, ended his tweet on the subject with a call to “BAN the apartheid flag [and] SING Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”.
“Gratuitous display” of the apartheid flag was prohibited and declared hate speech in a landmark judgment delivered by Judge President Phineas Mojapelo at the Equality Court in August.
The EFF and Mpofu, in particular, have called for the part of the South African national anthem based on apartheid-era anthem Die Stem to be removed, and for only the part based on Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika to remain.
(Additional reporting, AFP)