Mpumelelo Mkhabela | FW de Klerk was a useful pawn of history

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FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela at a peace signing ceremony during pre-election violence.  (Photo by © Louise Gubb/CORBIS SABA/Corbis via Getty Images)
FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela at a peace signing ceremony during pre-election violence. (Photo by © Louise Gubb/CORBIS SABA/Corbis via Getty Images)

FW de Klerk's release of Mandela on 11 February 1990 and the unbanning of anti-apartheid organisation was not based on the acceptance that apartheid was a crime against humanity as declared by the United Nations. Instead, De Klerk was acting on the dictates of global politics over which he had absolutely no control, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

FW de Klerk was a useful pawn of history. The last apartheid president, he secured his fame in global political history by releasing Nelson Mandela from prison and unbanning anti-apartheid organisations. "I woke on the morning of 2 February (1990) with a sense of destiny," wrote De Klerk in his autobiography The last trek: A new beginning

His speech to the apartheid Parliament on that day set South Africa on the road to a negotiated transition to democracy, not the revolutionary seizure of power that would have led to wanton destruction. 

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