De Klerk’s departure — The Nation Editorial

Posted by News Express | 19 November 2021 | 290 times

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•Late South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk


Significantly, his last message to the people of South Africa, which was also a final message to the world, gave an insight into his inner struggles as well as his inner triumph.  The video released by his foundation hours after his death, in which he expressed his deepest thoughts about racism, captured not only his flexibility but also his sense of good and bad.

He said: “I, without qualification, apologise for the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage that apartheid has done to black, brown and Indians in South Africa. I do so not only in my capacity as the former leader of the National Party, but also as an individual… Since the early 80s, my views changed completely. It was as if I had a conversion. And in my heart of hearts, I realised that apartheid was wrong.”

This swan song, recorded as he approached the end of his life, repeated an earlier apology. In April 1993, he had issued a similar apology, acknowledging that apartheid had caused “misery.” He had said at the time: “Insofar as to what occurred we deeply regret it…Yes we are sorry.”

Frederik Willem de Klerk, South Africa’s last head of state from the era of white minority rule, who died on November 11, aged 85, was a man of history. As president of South Africa from 1989 to 1994, he presided over the dismantling of the obnoxious apartheid system and the introduction of universal suffrage. He was deputy president in the national unity government from 1994 to 1996 under black majority rule.

The far-reaching political changes under his leadership happened in the context of an intense liberation struggle by the oppressed black majority, and intense international pressure against apartheid and its blatant promotion of racial discrimination.

De Klerk recognised the need to rethink apartheid or separate development.  He was humble enough to accept the unacceptability of the oppressive system, and courageous enough to drive the needed changes.

His presidency focused on the negotiation process that led to the death of apartheid and the birth of majority rule in South Africa. In March 1992, his government organised a whites-only referendum on ending apartheid. The historic result supporting the termination of the racist policy eventually resulted in a new South Africa.

Source: News Express

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