The controversy around FW de Klerk’s statement about apartheid has engulfed South Africa. Following De Klerk’s statement that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, the Economic Freedom Fighters raised objections against his presence in Parliament during the State of the Nation Address last week.
The party says De Klerk has the blood of innocent people on his hands.
De Klerk made the controversial statement during an interview with SABC News.
The Interview that sparked the debate
“ Apartheid cannot be compared to genocide, there was never genocide”
– FW de Klerk (2 February 2020)
5 quotes on De Klerk’s utterances on apartheid
EFF takes on De Klerk
Leading up to the State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the EFF had threatened to disrupt proceedings if Ramaphosa did not fire Gordhan.
But on the day, that was not the punch they pulled, much to the surprise of many, demanding that De Klerk not be allowed to sit in the House, accusing him of being an “apartheid apologist.”
However, Speaker of Parliament Thandi Modise ruled against the EFF’s submission to remove De Klerk from the House.
Speaking in Parliament ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA, Modise said that EFF leader Julius Malema’s submission would not be sustained.
“This sitting has been called for one item; one item only – to give the President the space to address the nation. It is convention that all the presidents and former presidents who are still alive are invited to this sitting. The former President De Klerk has been invited because of that. I, therefore, cannot sustain this submission you have made and therefore, rule it out of order.”
Making the submission, Malema referred to De Klerk as a murderer.
“Honourable Speaker, we have a murderer in the house. We have got a man, who has blood of innocent people, in this house, which is supposed to represent the will of our people. And therefore, it is incorrect for you to have extended an invitation to De Klerk because De Klerk is a murderer. De Klerk has blood on his hands.
“The people of Boipatong are turning in their graves. De Klerk said that apartheid was not a crime against humanity. It is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid, who is not willing to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity. Therefore, it is an insult to those who died in Vlakplaas under the instructions of De Klerk, to have De Klerk sitting in a democratic Parliament.”
Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa defends FW de Klerk’s presence
#SONA2020 | SABC News’ Samkele Maseko provides an update as Parliament is temporarily suspended. State Security Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa says Pravin Gordhan is going nowhere. Kodwa says the drama was planned. pic.twitter.com/xvZDmhULVv
— SABC News Online (@SABCNewsOnline) February 13, 2020
UN refutes De Klerk’s claims on apartheid
The United Nations (UN) has rubbished FW de Klerk‘s claims that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
The UN unequivocally confirmed that apartheid was a well-established crime against humanity because it meets two key elements of being both widespread and systematic.
ICC and UN on apartheid
De Klerk Foundation issues statement
In a statement, the De Klerk Foundation claims that the United Nations’ (UN) classification of apartheid as a crime against humanity formed part of an agenda by the Soviet Union and the ANC along with its allies to stigmatise white South Africans.
The statement also sought to justify and the reason why apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
EFF to open inquest into murders under De Klerk’s apartheid presidency
The Economic Freedom Fighters says it intends to open a forensic inquest into the murders committed during apartheid under the regime of FW de Klerk.
The party says that recent comments made by De Klerk and his foundation show that the apartheid-era leader still seeks to justify the crimes committed against black people.
EFF spokesperson Delisile Ngwenya says government must also take action against those who seek to deny the severity and injustice of apartheid.
“The EFF will explore all legal options to reopen a forensic inquest against De Klerk on all people who were killed by the state under his presidency with the aim of prosecuting him for the apartheid murders. It is evident now that De Klerk will only appreciate that apartheid was a crime against humanity if he faces prosecution. Parliament should enact laws that criminalise apartheid denialism.”
De Klerk’s assertions cannot go unchallenged
The Council of Churches (SACC), has urged De Klerk and his Foundation to retract the statement and apologise for the hurt they have caused to ordinary South Africans. SACC General-Secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana says
“For the De Klerk foundation to tell us in blind acquiescence to its patron De Klerk that apartheid was no crime by the soviet propaganda is an insult to the millions of South Africans who suffered apartheid in the face of those who seek justice and peace”
The South African Council of Churches is calling on the De Klerk Foundation to retract and apologise following the statement it issued yesterday. The SACC says statement amplified the former President’s position that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, but a Soviet propaganda ploy. Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana says these assertions cannot go unchallenged by the South African Council of Churches.
ANC calls on decisive action against De Klerk
“In the interest of advancing reconciliation and nation-building the ANC calls on the FW de Klerk foundation to unconditionally retract its irresponsible statement and start showing commitment to building South Africa we all want.”
The African National Congress (ANC) has called on decisive action to be taken against former President FW De Klerk along with the De Klerk Foundation.
The party’s spokesperson Pule Mabe says De Klerk and his foundation must issue an apology and also retract a statement it made on apartheid. Mabe says the remarks are a betrayal of the legacy of former President Nelson Mandela.
The ANC has called on government to make illegal, any utterances that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
De Klerk Foundation apologises, retracts statement on criminality of apartheid
Former President FW de Klerk has retracted and apologised for his statement on the criminality of the apartheid system. In an interview on SABC News, De Klerk said that he does not fully agree with the United Nation’s position that apartheid was a crime against humanity.
The De Klerk Foundation later backed his comments in a statement. The statement was released on Friday after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) demanded that he leave Parliament where he was attending the State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The statement elicited huge criticism from political parties with a march being planned to the offices of the FW de Klerk Foundation in Cape Town on Wednesday.
His Foundation has since apologised to the country for the confusion caused by the statement.
“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. The FW de Klerk Foundation has accordingly decided to withdraw its statement of 14 February unconditionally and apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused,” the statement outlines.
The Foundation says it remains committed to a democratic South Africa.
“ The FW de Klerk Foundation remains deeply committed to national reconciliation and to the achievement of the foundational values on which the Foundation is based – including human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and non-sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law and a genuine multi-party system of democratic governance.”
Below is the FW de Klerk Foundation’s full statement :