'SA should never forget what we can accomplish when we work together' - FW de Klerk

2019-01-23 20:06
Former deputy president and final apartheid president FW de Klerk at an event organised by the Cape Town Press Club. (Jan Gerber/News24)

Former deputy president and final apartheid president FW de Klerk at an event organised by the Cape Town Press Club. (Jan Gerber/News24)

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Former deputy president and the final apartheid-president FW de Klerk believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel for South Africa, and called on South Africans to work together.

De Klerk addressed an event organised by the Cape Town Press Club at the Kelvin Grove Club in Newlands, Cape Town on Wednesday.

The former president looked at the past 25 years since the dawn of democracy in South Africa, outlining some of the things that went wrong, and some of the things that went right.

Recalling the dangerous path the country was on in the mid-1980s, he said both the then NP-government and the ANC realised that negotiations were the only way to avoid a racial war. 

He said the agreement that was reached despite several crises by December 1993, was a "remarkable achievement" and he believes it was one of the most successful change management processes anywhere in the world at any time.

He said they have succeeded in removing apartheid, which was an "egregious breach" of the rights of a majority by a minority.

"Nelson Mandela's inauguration was one of the most fulfilling days of my life," he said.

Since then South Africa has failed dismally to create equality, and the country is now more unequal than in 1994, he said.

De Klerk also lamented the lack of acknowledgement of language and cultural rights, and the rise of racial stereotyping and scapegoating by political leaders. 

However, it was not all doom and gloom from the octogenarian, who appeared frail after his recent sickness.

He said South Africa was "extremely fortunate" that Cyril Ramaphosa emerged victorious at the ANC 2017 conference in Nasrec, rather than the Zuma camp's preferred candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

That didn’t mean he'll vote for the ANC in the upcoming election, he said, but that he'll vote for an opposition party with a proven record of keeping a clean administration who is the most non-racial party in South Africa.He didn't name this party.

De Klerk believes Ramaphosa is sincere in restoring the state-owned enterprises which were captured by former president Jacob Zuma and his cronies.

He said the revelations in front of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture laid bare the "brazen corruption at the heart of the previous administration". 

"The key test is to what degree the revelations will have consequences." He said it is essential that Ramaphosa succeeds in restoring the National Prosecuting Authority, intelligence agencies, police, state-owned enterprises and other state institutions.

"It will not be easy, Ramaphosa must still stamp his authority on ANC institutions," he said. 

He said this will be more important than the outcome of the elections. "If Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds, I'm quite hopeful."

He said Ramaphosa should resume Mandela's vision of promoting true reconciliation with an emphasis on equality and non-racialism.

"South Africans should never forget what we can accomplish when we work together," he said.

He closed his address with Afrikaans poet NP van Wyk Louw's "O wye en droewe land" (Oh wide and sad land) and said what South Africans did 25 years ago was a deed of "peace and hope".

"We should never forget it and we should work to keep it alive."

The all-white, mostly elderly, well-heeled audience gave him a standing ovation.

Read more on:    anc  |  fw de klerk  |  cyril ramaphosa
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