24 January 2019

South Africa: FW De Klerk - Claiming Space in SA's Democratic History While Criticising New Forms of Racism


FW de Klerk, the last apartheid president who went on to serve as a deputy president in the first democratic government, on Wednesday described inequality as democratic South Africa's biggest failure, closely followed by failure to promote non-racialism. 'It is a matter of the deepest regret that, in my opinion, South Africa can no longer be regarded as a non-racial society,' he said, adding concern about 'aggressive racial rhetoric'.

There is a certain incongruity in an apartheid president talking of equality and non-racialism. But in many ways, FW de Klerk does not see himself as the last of the apartheid presidents from 1989 to 1994, but as the politician, even statesman, who played a fundamental role in South Africa's transition to constitutional democracy, regardless of what critics say.

In a rare public appearance - he addressed the Cape Town Press Club - he apologised for his at times faltering voice: "I've been quite ill. My voice is not used to carry on and on... "

De Klerk on Wednesday tackled criticism from both black and white and also Afrikaner South Africans to stake his legacy but also reflected on 25 years of democratic South Africa.

"Let me make it clear...

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