About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF)

The AVF is probably the most important development in right-wing circles since the advent of the new South Africa. Under the direction of four former security force generals, it is the first umbrella organisation that has achieved a measure of success in realising the long elusive ideal of right-wing unity.

It was formally founded in May 1993, but the initiative that led to its formation had started almost two years previously with the establishment of the EK 25 (Unity Committee of 25) and the Volkseenheidkomitee (Vekom, or National Unity Committee). Former South African Defence Force General Tienie Groenewald was the central driving force in both these groups, which consisted exclusively of volkstaat visionaries.

In April 1993 this initiative combined with the Conservative Party's 'mobilisation programme', which had started several months earlier, when CP leaders realised that the era of white parliamentary politics had effectively come to an end. The CP's initiative had been formally launched under the chairmanship of yet an-other former SADF general, Koos Bischoff, a former SADF chief of operations. But this effort 'to mobilise on all fronts to ensure self-determination of the Afrikaner' never really got off the ground.

Soon after the assassination of Chris Hani and the accompanying militancy and polarisation across the political spectrum, a Committee of Generals (later to become the AVF's directorate) was formed, consisting of Groenewald, Bischoff, ex-SADF chief Constand Viljoen, and a former chief of the South African Police CID, Kobus Visser.

Marshalling the emotions of right-wingers around the highly respected Viljoen, the AVF was soon seen as the new driving force of the right, with the CP having no choice but to join forces - which it did a month after the 'night of the generals'. An executive council was elected, with CP leader Ferdi Hartzenberg as chairman. But although the nine-member executive of the AVF is heavily laden in favour of the CP, the generals of the directorate are very much in the driving seat.

The lack of a single, clear leadership and the ensuing duality is the cause of continuous internal friction among volkstaters, white supremacists, CP hardliners, those willing to negotiate and those who refuse. An added cause of internal tension is the membership of Eugene Terre'Blanche and the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging.

However, while these tensions are often seen as signs of an impending split, they are more often the manifestations of a dynamic organisation that will continue to play an important role (albeit one of a spoiler) in the run-up to the elections.

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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.