News24

Reason for concern - De Klerk

2010-08-26 08:40

Cape Town - All "balanced South Africans" who value democracy have reason to be very concerned, says former president FW de Klerk.

He said in a wide-ranging interview that the elements of federalism in the Constitution, freedom of the media, the free market economy and the independence of the judiciary are in danger.

"It there has ever been a good time for civil society to join the debate on these four matters, it is now. The framework offered by the Constitution provides some protection.

Constitution

"I don't believe the Constitutional Court will approve the media legislation and the Protection of Information Bill as they stand at the moment.

"The same goes for ownership rights. The green paper which will be published soon does not comply with the Constitution. The same goes for the provinces. This is protected in the Constitution.

"But we need to be wide awake! We need to be ready!"

It is necessary for the media to critically evaluate the mechanisms by which the industry regulates itself.

"I think there is room for improvement. And if the media should decide to make some improvements, it would relieve some of the pressure and then there will be a way to successfully prevent the establishment of a state-controlled tribunal and access to information being limited too severely."

Apartheid comparisons


He conceded that there are "corresponding elements" between the arguments currently being used by the ANC to justify a media tribunal and those used by the apartheid government in 1982.

"But the situation in 1982 was somewhat different. There was actually a silent war going on.

"We were still involved in Angola then and there were still thousands and thousands of Cuban troops and the USSR was still alive and it was still providing financial support, weapons and training to struggle movements."

The emergency measures set in place by the government in 1986 and 1987 were essential and saved many lives.

According to De Klerk, the glue which holds the ANC together has disappeared, and it is going to tear apart.

"If you analyse the broader structures of the ANC you will find people grouped together who believe in completely different things. The old glue which kept them connected was the struggle to end apartheid. Apartheid is gone now, and so is the cement.

ANC split

"So the ANC is going to split. They don't like hearing it, but I'm convinced it will happen. And when it does, we will see our democracy normalised to a greater degree.

"Then alliance politics will take a strong step forward in South Africa. Alliance politics allows for realistic compromises."

De Klerk, who received the Nobel Peace Prize along with former president Nelson Mandela in 1993, says he did not betray anyone or let anyone down.

"I am convinced that what we did between 1989 and 1994 was in the best interests of everyone in South Africa, and that we prevented a catastrophe.

"I'm convinced we saved hundreds of thousands of lives which would have been lost in a struggle that would have destroyed this country."