FW de Klerk fallout: No change in leadership expected as foundation 'comes out wiser'

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FW de Klerk and his wife Elita Georgiades at the FW de Klerk Foundation Conference at the Raddison Blue Hotel in Waterfront on January 31, 2020 in Cape Town.
FW de Klerk and his wife Elita Georgiades at the FW de Klerk Foundation Conference at the Raddison Blue Hotel in Waterfront on January 31, 2020 in Cape Town.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

In the wake of issuing and then withdrawing a contentious statement about apartheid, the FW de Klerk Foundation says it has "come out wiser", but that no one is expected to be fired or resign.

"I don't believe there will be a change in leadership at the foundation," Dr Theuns Eloff, advisory board chair of the foundation, told News24 on Tuesday.

"FW de Klerk is the emeritus chair and I don't believe that Dr Dayne Morkel, the new CEO, will leave because of this. This was a lesson for us and we came out the wiser."

Morkel, 33, a former investment banker, was appointed in January this year.

Eloff continued: "It was a mistake to issue that statement, and I believe that the mistake was made because of an error in judgement and some emotionality over the attacks by the EFF."

In interviews before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week, De Klerk said that apartheid could not be compared with genocide and that, while apartheid had led to the deaths of many people, more had died because of "black-on-black violence" than because of apartheid.

Before President Cyril Ramaphosa could utter a word in his address on Thursday evening, EFF leader Julius Malema rose on a point of order, asking that De Klerk be removed from the National Assembly chamber's public gallery. De Klerk was seated there with former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

The foundation issued a statement the following day in which it labelled the notion that apartheid was a crime against humanity "soviet agitprop" – propaganda meant to agitate.

READ | Wilhelm Verwoerd | FW de Klerk saga: facing the dehumanisation of apartheid

Following massive backlash, the foundation released another statement on Monday.

In it, De Klerk said he had taken note of the angry reaction to the statement that had insisted that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

"I agree with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation that this is not the time to quibble about the degrees of unacceptability of apartheid. It was totally unacceptable," he said.

"The FW de Klerk Foundation has accordingly decided to withdraw its statement of February 14 unconditionally and apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused."

It also agreed that with the International Criminal Court's provision that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity.

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