Talking points for a propaganda campaign – Liesbeek Action Campaign

Action campaign Liesbeek |

May 16, 2022

The organization asks if figures linked to the IRR and the AD are carrying out a coordinated public relations attack against indigenous groups?

Paternalism, ethnocide, epistemicide: talking points for a propaganda campaign

May 16, 2022

The Liesbeek Action Campaign condemns an apparently coordinated effort to spread misinformation about objections to the development of the River Club, Observatory, Cape Town. Several figures linked to the Democratic Alliance and the Institute for Race Relations have spoken out on the matter, repeating offensive lies and attempting to cast doubt on the authenticity of indigenous groups who oppose development on sacred lands. .

Among those who made false statements and deeply offensive remarks were Helen Zille, IRR’s Sara Gon, retired DA MP Mariann Shinn and Ivo Vegter, a columnist for IRR spokesperson the Daily Friend. Court documents show former DA chief Tony Leon’s PR firm Resolve Communications was paid R2.5 million by Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust, the property developer now banned from building on the site. Besides a few propaganda infomercials and social media ads that paint a rosy picture of the River Club’s development, we wonder what else these fees have bought the developers.

It is unclear whether these commentators really believe the outlandish lie that this land was empty or that indigenous heritage has no value. What they argue is that we should trade our values ​​for the promise of jobs from an international juggernaut known for dodging taxes and creating dangerous and exploitative work environments.

Erase Indigenous histories and identities


During a discussion between Sara Gon of the IRR and David Ansara of the Center for Risk Analysis, Gon repeatedly tried to question the authenticity of indigenous groups opposing the development and the heritage value of the site. Instead, she supported the First Nations Collective, a small grouping that stands to benefit directly from the development. According to Gon’s version, the FNC has been around longer and the other formations “suddenly appeared”.

Facts: There are at least 23 indigenous groups who have backed the campaign to oppose the development of a sacred floodplain. These groups did not “suddenly appear”, but have been active for decades in the Khoi re-emergence movement. On the other hand, it was the FNC that only miraculously appeared in November 2019 after the developers were forced to “consult” the Khoi groups. What script is Gon reading to make such a contrary claim?

In the online chat, Ansara went on to say, “If you go back far enough in history, no one owned this land. It was all kind of a virgin land. Gon agreed and spoke of “presumed cultural heritage sites”. This “empty land theory” is historically inaccurate, totally discredited, and represents a continuation of the colonial and apartheid myths used to dispossess indigenous peoples of the land over the centuries. It is deeply racist.

Facts: There is ample evidence of Indigenous connections to this piece of land dating back centuries. It is known for its cultural and spiritual significance to past generations and continues to be a place of great significance to current generations of Indigenous peoples. It is known from European records and native oral histories as a place of cattle grazing and social interaction, and was the site of the first attempted incursion by colonizers in 1510. In colonial times Dutch, indigenous peoples were driven out of this traditional pasture and watering hole. This first border is therefore Ground Zero for the genocide of the colonial period – the site of the first resistance against the Portuguese colonizers in 1510, and of the Dutch invasion in their wake. All of this is confirmed in multiple reports in court documents.