Friday, August 27, 1999 Published at 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Afrikaner brotherhood embraces new SA
The ex-Broederbond exerted its influence in parliament
The Afrikanerbond, the secretive white nationalist group which played a key role in implementing South Africa's former apartheid policies, says it now intends to co-operate with the new government.
The organisation, previously known as the Broederbond (Society of Brothers) said it wanted to promote social and economic progress by acting as a conduit between the government and people who had expertise to offer.
"In this capacity we can bring together interest groups from the Afrikaans community and the government," Mr de Beer said.
The society stressed it wanted to remain outside of party politics.
The apparent change of heart follows a call to Afrikaners by President Thabo Mbeki last month to involve themselves more in South Africa's future development.
The Broederbond was founded in 1918 to promote the interests of Afrikaners who felt that English speakers were keeping them out of positions of power in politics and in business, following the British victory in the 1899-1902 Boer War.
The Broederbond helped to consolidate Afrikaner influence, which led to the 1948 election victory by the National Party.
Although it always insisted it was non-political, the Broederbond exerted a strong influence on the selection of candidates for parliamentary and cabinet seats - most of whom were returned unopposed.
'No longer exclusive'
Mr de Beer said the society - once exclusively white and male - now has about 14,000 members, including 700 women and 200 "people of colour."
He said the organisation would consider membership applications from anyone aged over 18, irrespective of race or gender, provided they subscribed to the group's constitution.
Or, as the Afrikanerbond's own website puts it: "In the new political dispensation an exclusive male organisation open to white Afrikaans speakers would not have gone unnoticed".
The group's present constitution avoids the use of the word "Afrikaner", preferring to talk about "Afrikaans speakers" or "the Afrikaans-speaking community".