‘If I was president...’ – FW claims he’s apolitical

2012-07-26 06:56

Former president, and the last apartheid president, FW de Klerk has said it was difficult to suppress his urge to get involved politically but it was necessary because his foundation was “apolitical”.

He did, however, venture to give President Jacob Zuma some advice, saying if education Minister Angie Motshekga was found to have been in the wrong, he would fire her if he were president.

Speaking at a press conference following his concluding address to a conference on ANC policy organised by his foundation in Auckland Park, Johannesburg yesterday, De Klerk said the textbook issue wasn’t the fault of apartheid, as Zuma had insinuated in an interview with Talk Radio 702’s Redi Thlabi earlier in the week, but of bad management.

“If I was president, I would have asked the minister of education to fully investigate and brief me, and if I came to the conclusion that the minister of education had failed in a material way, yes, I would fire her,” he said.

In his address to the conference De Klerk said: “I have decided to keep the politician in me quiet. Our foundation is apolitical.”

But he did venture his opinion on government policies “as a concerned citizen and someone from civil society”, saying the country could either follow the road of the National Planning Commission’s national development plan, or that of the ANC’s national democratic revolution.

He later explained to journalists: “I am still suppressing it (the urge to get politically involved). I am no longer a party politician.”

He also said his foundation would not align itself to a particular political party.

But he said towards the end of the conference debate, when it turned to party political matters, “that stimulated me” to become involved in a political debate, and “I have to suppress that”.

DA leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was one of the last speakers in the debate and talked about the “realignment” of political parties.

De Klerk also said white men are being blamed unfairly by the ANC and its alliance for problems like unemployment, poverty and inequality.

He added that the country was moving away from the era of former president Nelson Mandela, which was all about inclusivity and reconciliation.

“That spirit has faced and is almost gone now,” he said.

De Klerk said he imagines Mandela would be sad about this.

De Klerk sparked outrage two months ago when he appeared to defend the homeland system in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, but his foundation later said his comments were taken out of context.

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