De Klerk taken unfairly out of context - foundation

2012-05-11 22:10
Cape Town - Former president FW de Klerk's comments about the homeland system during a CNN interview were taken unfairly out of context, the FW de Klerk Foundation said on Friday.

De Klerk's comments, made in an interview with CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, sparked controversy, in which he admitted that apartheid was "morally indefensible", but appeared to defend the homeland system.

"The interview dealt with De Klerk’s views as a young man. He tried, as frankly as he could, to explain what motivated him at the time. What motivated him as a young man ceased many years ago to motivate him as a political leader," the foundation said in a statement.

However, as De Klerk pointed out, the National Party’s application of territorial partition was a complete failure because the territorial division was manifestly unfair, something that De Klerk was opposed to as a young politician.


When the leadership of the National Party had become aware of the failure of its approach of territorial division it began a process of reform – and then under De Klerk’s leadership – of transformation, the foundation said.

De Klerk has apologised sincerely for the hardship, injustice and humiliation caused by apartheid. But more than merely uttering words of contrition, he led the process of dismantling apartheid and of opening the way to our present non-racial constitutional democracy. 

Deep into his retirement he continues to work for the maintenance of South Africa’s Constitution and for the realisation of its vision.

"Since the mid-eighties De Klerk has accepted that the policies that he supported as a young man were wrong and that there was not any possibility of justly settling South Africa’s complex problems on the basis of territorial partition."


Sapa reported on Friday that social networking site Twitter was abuzz following comments made by De Klerk in the interview.

"Can't sleep after FW De Klerk interview on CNN. Counting to 10 isn't helping. Justifying apartheid in 2012? and apparently homelands were great!" Talk Radio 702 host Redi Tlhabi wrote on Thursday night.

Another tweeter @siyamtandaskota said: "This man is insane!!! Now he says blacks weren't disenfranchised - they voted in the homelands. Is FW De Klerk mad??!!".

"FW De Klerk says he 'was good friends with Madiba'. I don't want to be friends with him if he's gonna stick his friends on Robben Island," @f__kyeahbryan tweeted.

De Klerk was interviewed by the global news network at a summit of Nobel laureates in Chicago on Thursday night, The Times reported.

Morally indefensible

He discussed his "historical antagonism" and current friendship with former president Nelson Mandela, the failure of the apartheid system, and the shortcomings of the current government.

When asked whether he agreed that apartheid was morally repugnant, he said: "In as much as it trampled human rights it was and remains morally indefensible."

However, De Klerk then reportedly said about the homeland system: "But the concept of giving, as the Czechs have it now, and the Slovaks have it, of saying that ethnic unity with one culture with one language [everyone] can be happy and can fulfil their democratic aspirations in an own state, that is not repugnant."

He denied that blacks in the homelands were disenfranchised.

Not disenfranchised

"They were not disenfranchised, they voted. They were not put in homelands, the homelands were historically there. If only the developed world would put so much money into Africa, which is struggling with poverty, as we poured into those homelands. How many universities were built? How many schools?" he asked.

"At that stage the goal was separate but equal, but separate but equal failed." He said he later became "a convert" against the system.

When he asked about the state of South Africa's democracy, De Klerk reportedly said: "I'm convinced it's a solid democracy and it will remain so, but it's not a healthy democracy."

He said the ANC alliance needed to split because it was unhealthy for one party to dominate the political landscape.

Insult to dignity

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said on Friday that De Klerk's comments were "unfortunate and disappointing" .

It also undermined the work he did in pursuing reconciliation for the country.

"While Mr De Klerk rightfully acknowledges that apartheid was morally indefensible, he too must recognise that the entire concept of racial division through 'separate but equal' bantustans was an insult to the dignity of black South Africans," she said in a statement.

"It resulted not only in the most extreme form of asset stripping, but deprived millions of South Africans of their sense of belonging."

Rainbow nation

She said he was an important figure in "our peaceful transition to democracy, and the building of our rainbow nation".

"We urge him once again to occupy this space, as he did in 1994, to use his words to create hope and unity."

In the 1950s the apartheid government divided the black population of the country according to ethnic groups or tribes and assigned them to separate regions, which were dubbed ethnic homelands, or bantustans.

The ten bantustans were Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Gazankulu, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele, KwaZulu, Lebowa, Qwaqwa, Transkei, and Venda.

The interview, conducted at a recent summit of Nobel Laureates in Chicago, was broadcast on CNN on Thursday night.

Read more on:    cnn  |  fw de klerk  |  politics

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