It is with great sadness to hear about the passing on of Mr FW de Klerk who was the last president of the apartheid South Africa.
We would like to remind South Africans that it was Mr de Klerk who announced Policy Reforms that paved a way for negotiations that led to an end of apartheid and paved a way for a new Constitutional dispensation in South Africa.
We appreciate him for listening to the calls for an end to apartheid. Though there was pressure from the international community and the impact caused by sanctions, FW De Klerk heeded the call to bring about reforms. Following in the footsteps of Nkosi Albert Luthuli, together with Nelson Mandela, they got a Nobel peace prize for his perceived role in bringing about peace in South Africa. Though many South Africans still have problems with his awarding of the peace award.
The only honorable thing was to heed the call to unban political movements, releasing political prisoners and the return of the exiles. And during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings, he failed to appreciate the hurt many South Africans felt at the hands of his government and his other predecessors.
During the first elected government, former president Nelson Mandela appointed him as a second deputy president during the government of national unity, though he later left.
We make these collections not to praise him or to cover up allegations on his involvement as the president of the apartheid government in the political violence that engulfed the country in the 1990’s nor allegation around an endorsement of an attack to the Mpendulo home in North Crest, Mthatha where innocent school kids were killed in their sleep by the members of South African Defence Force.
Mr De Klerk passes away at a time when South Africans are seeking clarity on a number of atrocities suffered by the black people during the era of the Nationalist Party rule, of which he was a member and later a president.
An honourable thing he did was to accept the responsibilities for some of the atrocities committed by the Afrikaner government. Although he waited till it was very late. It is so unfortunate that his death is characterised by debates about the meaning of his legacy than the reshaping of a new South Africa.
On behalf of the Nelson Mandela Museum, we wish to extend our deepest condolences to his family, children and grandchildren.
Rest in peace Mr Frederik Willem de Klerk.