The grandson of Nelson Mandela has praised the last president of the apartheid regime, FW de Klerk, for standing his ground and releasing his grandfather from prison. Last night, on the anniversary of the announcement by De Klerk in 1990 of the unbanning of liberation movements and the release of Mandela, Mandla Mandela said this would not have happened without De Klerk’s courage. “Today, we pay tribute to the courageous and visionary FW de Klerk on the occasion of his unbanning of the ANC and other liberation movements and the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s release. “His actions were out of the ordinary notwithstanding the weight of internal resistance, the growing strength of the international anti-apartheid movement and the talks about the negotiation process,” said Mandla. The Mvezo chief and ANC MP, who is Madiba’s eldest grandson, said history would remember De Klerk for standing boldly in the face of white supremacists who were hellbent on preserving minority rule, perpetuating white privilege and driving South Africa to the brink of civil war. “Undoubtedly there were detractors within his own party ranks but he remained resolute that the only way forward was through national reconciliation, rebuilding the South African nation and giving peace a chance,” he said. “De Klerk must be saluted for reading that historic moment that acknowledged what Madiba said that ‘only the free can negotiate’ and indeed the icon of our struggle walked free seven days after De Klerk’s announcement.” He praised De Klerk for having stuck to his decision with firm resolve even in the toughest moments when he was at the receiving end of Madiba’s “opprobrium and when his very credibility was in question”. He said the two decades of democracy was evidence that De Klerk’s contribution was a critical one in setting South Africa on the path to democracy. “Ahead of us lies a long road to eradicating poverty, fighting inequality and taking forward the vision of nation building, national reconciliation and social cohesion.” He said more heroes like De Klerk were needed in building South Africa’s future. “We would do well to have more heroes in our midst who are prepared to swim against the stream and make unpopular choices that will take us forward as a nation and a continent. The dream lives on and the legacy will never die,” said Mandla.