The national conversation about the role and the impact of the old flag has been gaining momentum after the symbol of apartheid was seen at the countrywide #BlackMonday demonstrations against farm murders. Many were critical of protesters prominently displaying the old flag, even on their clothes. There have been renewed calls to make displaying of the old flag illegal.
But political analyst Ralph Mathekga has warned this could result in even more conflict and backlash, and that the most recent events should be seen as a good opportunity to talk about the matter.
"Let us have a conversation about this," he told HuffPost SA. "It shows we have not dealt with our fundamental values. If we ban the flag, we are making the situation worse."
In Germany you face up to three years imprisonment for brandishing a Nazi flag, why haven't we outlawed the old aparthied flag? #BlackMonday— Tebogo Ditshego (@TebogoDitshego) October 30, 2017
Was it necessary to display the old apartheid flag during this black Monday protest?— Mihlali Ndamase (@mihlalii_n) October 31, 2017
A clear indicator that the "Rainbow Nation" concept is a Scam. If white people can whip out a Flag that enslaved a nation #BlackMonday— SheAsethetics 🌾 (@uNonhlanhla_M) October 31, 2017
Social media timelines were flooded with pictures of protesters waving the orange, white and blue flag.
Daniel Silke, another political analyst, disagrees with Mathekga, and said he believes the flag has no place in our democracy.
"The flag is synonymous with apartheid South Africa. These are old symbols, of oppression," he said. "A good case can be made for banishing the flag, as it can be considered hate speech."Susan Booysen, a professor at the School of Governance at the University of the Witwatersrand, also described the flag as a "horrible symbol of the past".
While the flag should be banned, those who have been flying it have to re-educate themselves about post-apartheid South Africa, she said.
"They must stop being tone-deaf and enjoy the new South Africa. This is not South Africa before 1994," she added.
Political parties condemn the display of the flag
The EFF said the march, "promoted anti-black racism by a tiny white minority that seeks to gain public sympathy using apartheid symbols like the apartheid-government flag".
In a statement, the party also called the protest action "full-blown stupidity", saying it disagreed with the idea that the killing of white farmers has been orchestrated by black people.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane also noted his disappointment.
The use of the old SA flag is unacceptable. It is reminiscent of our brutal past and does not belong in the new SA.— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) October 30, 2017
1/2 there are some who seek to divide our nation, whether it's the use of the old flag, or demonizing a race against another.SA must unite— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) October 31, 2017
The ANC has called the flying of the flag "arrogant" and "offensive".
"The African National Congress condemns the despicable and racist behaviour by some who took part in the so-called #BlackMonday campaign, groupings representing the farming community today," ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa in said a statement on Monday.
The party reportedly said that black farmers were also killed on farms, and that all lives should be treated equally. It also commented that the display of the old flag is evidence of a yearning for the return of white supremacy.