There has been mixed reaction to the passing of the last president of apartheid South Africa, FW De Klerk’s death. While some political parties have expressed sadness following the news of, some like Pan African Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters have not been pulling any punches.
De Klerk died this morning at his home in Fresnaye in Cape Town. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer earlier this year and has died of complications, as a result. He was South Africa’s last white president before the government of national unity, under the late former president, Tata Nelson Mandela, in which he became the deputy president.
De Klerk was head of state from September 1989 until May 1994.
His foundation, the FW de Klerk Foundation says the news of the death came at a time they least expected.
“He should be remembered for the role that he played and moving South Africa from white minority rule to a multi-racial constitutional democracy. I think that was the role the he played and really, he dedicated the whole of presidency to the abolition of apartheid and to the creation of circumstances, in which we could build a functioning, non-racial constitutional democracy,” says Dave Stewart.
FW De Klerk’s last words to South Africans:
President of the Pan African Congress Mzwanele Nyontsho has referred to de Klerk as the architect of a constitution that keeps Africans landless.
“Our hearts go with the families, the victims of de Klerk. We’re worried that de Klerk died without telling us who pulled the trigger in Umtata, Pendulo children. We’re just worried about them. We don’t care about de Klerk. We just wish and hope that his remains will be thrown in the sea, and of course, not in the African seas. We don’t care about de Klerk, the architecture of the so-called new constitution,” says Nyontsho.
At his last appearance in parliament, de Klerk faced a hostile reception from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), whose leader Julius Malema demanded that he be kicked out. This followed shortly after de Klerk had suggested that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
“It is an insult to those who died and tortured at Vlakplaas under the instructions of De Klerk, to have De Klerk sitting in a democratic parliament. I, therefore, suggest, Honourable Speaker, that we please request De Klerk to leave the house. For us to have peaceful proceedings, we ask the commander of Vlakplaas, the apartheid apologist, a man with blood on his hands to leave this parliament because he does not belong here,” said Malema at the time.
Earlier today, the EFF released a statement saying de Klerk held no legitimate claim to any title or honour, of having led South Africa.
“He was a president of an undemocratic and racist society, which elected him as a minority. He was the president who led on the basis of political and economic disenfranchisement of the majority black population of South Africa. It is for this reason as the EFF we call on de Klerk not to be given a state funeral of any category.”
EFF Statement On The Death Of Apartheid President F.W De Klerk pic.twitter.com/SgWBEXLriy
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) November 11, 2021
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has described de Klerk as a South African who tried his best.
Executive of the Foundation, Sello Hatang says De Klerk’s legacy cannot be disregarded.
“Like all legacies, no legacy is one that is perfect. Every legacy has its own blemishes, so does every legacy of the greatest of the greatest and I think in this case we have a legacy that we should all be observing as one that was weak, that was difficult. He had his moments, for example, him moving out of the government of national unity. That was part of that negative legacy because it then impacted on nation building, but I think we can’t deny, like Madiba did, the acknowledgment that he was a South African who tried his best,” says Hatang.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Emeritus President Nkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi has also weighed in, describing de Klerk’s death as shocking.
And the National Freedom Party says this was unexpected, but marks the end of the apartheid era in South Africa.
General Secretary, Canaan Mdletshe, says, “We send our deepest condolences to the de Klerk family and friends. However. this signals the end of an apartheid era in South Africa. It closes a chapter and concludes a sad past in South Africa, where black people were discriminated against.”
Leader of the Good Party Patricia de Lille has shared her condolences with the family of de Klerk.
De Klerk was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
De Lille says De Klerk played a major role in the transition to democracy.
“We want to express our deepest condolences to FW’s wife, Elita, and the family on the passing of the former President FW de Klerk. De Klerk played an important role in our country’s transition from apartheid to a democracy and ensure a peaceful and reconciliatory process. He continued to serve our country after the attainment of our democracy. May his soul rest in peace,” says De Lille.
The African Christian Democratic Party Chief Whip Steve Swart, remembered de Klerk for the role he played in helping bring about democracy in South Africa.
“We would like to, on behalf of the ACDP, express our deepest condolence to the family and friends of former president FW de Klerk. He played a vital role in the peaceful transition of South Africa in the run up to 1994. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this sad time.”
Funeral arrangements are yet to be communicated.
De Klerk is survived by his wife, Elita, two children and grandchildren.
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