Motlanthe backs FW de Klerk Boulevard

2015-02-03 18:45
Kgalema Motlanthe (Picture: AFP)

Kgalema Motlanthe (Picture: AFP)

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Cape Town - Former president Kgalema Motlanthe on Tuesday spoke out in support of Table Bay Boulevard being renamed after his counterpart FW de Klerk, after struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada said he had no objection to the change.

"What Uncle Kathy has done is the right thing to do," Motlanthe told a conference. It was hosted by the FW de Klerk Foundation to mark the 25th anniversary of his announcement that the apartheid government would unban the ANC and free Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.

Had his view been canvassed, he added: "I would have expressed approval for the naming of Table Bay Boulevard after former President FW de Klerk."

Asked about Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich's opposition to the project, Motlanthe said the trade unionist and city councillor had a right to express his views as all South Africans had in the interest of free speech.

He said it was not necessary to counter every controversial statement in free-flowing public debate with a repudiation, and it would be a step in the direction of censorship to suppress such remarks.

"People like Tony Ehrenreich must be granted the space to express themselves," he said.

"If they are wrong, they are wrong."

Ehrenreich last month said the Cape Town city council was wrongly dividing honours equally between Mandela and De Klerk, as the former was a liberator and the latter "an architect of apartheid".

In remarks published on Tuesday, Kathrada, a Rivonia trialist and close friend of Mandela, said he had no objections to the renaming and believed it would be wrong not to acknowledge De Klerk's historical role.

"After 26 years in prison, it would be churlish of me not to say, 'Thank you, president De Klerk' for eventually crossing the Rubicon and rising to the occasion when the country needed you to do so," he said.

Ehrenreich responded by saying Kathrada always sought to see the good in people and deserved to have a street named after him, but reiterated his views on De Klerk.

In his speech to the conference, Motlanthe gave measured praise of De Klerk, saying: "I would submit that no matter how historiography looks at this sensitive stage in South Africa's history, the historical consensus will always be that President FW de Klerk measured up to historical exigency."

Read more on:    kgalema motlanthe  |  fw de klerk  |  cape town  |  name changes

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