Tributes for Van Zyl Slabbert

2010-05-14 14:19

Johannesburg – Tributes flowed in on Friday for former politician, academic and businessman Frederik van Zyl Slabbert following his death in Johannesburg.

The opposition DA, a descendant of the Progressive Federal Party, which he once led, said he presented a non-racial alternative "with determination and principle".

"He devoted his life to the development of a just South Africa, and he left our country a far better place than before," said DA leader Helen Zille.

The Independent Democrats called him a true patriot and said all South Africans owed him a debt of gratitude for the principled stance he took in all the positions he occupied throughout his life.

Facilitated talks with ANC

The ANC said he had made an indelible mark in shaping opposition politics against apartheid.

"He will also be remembered as one of those white South Africans who facilitated contact with the African National Congress at the time it was banned inside the country," said ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu.

In 1985 he travelled to Lusaka for talks with the external wing of the ANC and, with IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, launched the National Convention Movement in an unsuccessful attempt to pressurise the government into negotiating with all political groups.

In 1987 he led a delegation of influential white business people to Dakar, Senegal, for talks with the then banned ANC.


The Institute for Democracy in South Africa, which he co-founded in 1986 with Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Alex Boraine, said he was a visionary and represented a "living embodiment of active citizenship as a South African and an African public intellectual".

"His life was rooted in the values of social justice which guided his participation on an ongoing basis in considering what democracy is and how it should be lived by citizens of South Africa and other countries," the centre said.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the country had been deprived of an intellectual and moral leader.

"His progressive contribution during the transition must have played a big role in stilling the doubts of those who thought our country would not succeed in reaching a peaceful democratic settlement," he said.

"A mobile political library", "a living embodiment of active citizenship" and a "person who left South Africa better than what it was" were some of the other tributes.

Parliamentarian par excellence

In a moving tribute to his "dear friend", Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Koos van der Merwe described him as a parliamentarian par excellence who had once "annihilated" apartheid head of state PW Botha in a three-minute speech.

He also kept to himself information that the daughter of the old far Right-wing Conservative Party's leader Andries Treurnicht had asked him for help to move to the United States to marry a black man.

"At that stage, it was unthinkable for a white Conservative to marry a black man. News of Treurnicht's daughter marrying a black man would have led to the end of Treurnicht's political career.

"Van Zyl Slabbert confidentially told me the story, but it never made the headlines. What an honourable man."

He said Van Zyl Slabbert had known political parties "better than they knew themselves" and was often approached for advice. He was considered a mobile political library.

The Freedom Front Plus said: "Whether one agreed or disagreed with him, he treated everyone in the same courteous manner and brought integrity into politics, which often today is lacking."


Websites also carried tributes to him, with "Cape Town Fan" saying "You did well for us" and "rb" writing "RIP Van Zyl. One of the few true South Africans. Unfortunately a breed that is fast becoming extinct".

However, some people commenting on the TimesLive website, took a different view, with Ntebaleng writing: "He was a good man but truth is he lacked balls - if a man decide to get in a fight he must fight to the end - he was easily getting disilutioned (sic) - in politics you need men of steel".

Camps Bay wrote: "I wish all pinkies were like him. RIP Comrade".

PFP co-founder Colin Eglin said Van Zyl Slabbert would be remembered with "great respect for his integrity, his keen intellect, his warm personality, and his deep concern for the people, the society and the country of which he was so much a part".


Read more on:    idasa  |  da  |  anc  |  id  |  patricia de lille  |  helen zille  |  bantu holomisa  |  koos van der merwe  |  frederik van zyl slabbert

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.