Nelson Mandela Foundation says De Klerk was a South African who tried his best

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The Nelson Mandela Foundation has described former president of apartheid government, FW De Klerk as a South African who tried his best. De Klerk succumbed to cancer on Thursday morning at the age of 85.

His foundation has confirmed his death in a statement, saying that he had died peacefully at home in Fresnaye in Cape Town.

De Klerk was the last apartheid-era president and was the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993.

However, his role in the transition of the country from apartheid to democracy has been questioned in recent years.

Executive of the foundation, Sello Hatang says De Klerk’s legacy cannot be disregarded.

“De Klerk, like all legacies – no legacy is one that is perfect – every legacy has its own blemishes, so does every legacy 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.

He says De Klerk’s passing should be seen as a moment of reflection for South Africans.

“It’s the moment for us to do the kind of work of saying what else do we need to do to honour legacies that were trying at the times that they did (sic). And I think that we would be really shortsighted if we just dismissed it outright as a legacy that we shouldn’t acknowledge at all. At a moment like this, it’s a moment for us to reflect, to take stock of stuff that he could have gotten wrong, but what did he do to get it right. We can’t be sitting here arguing for a better past. We can only do so to argue for a better future. What kind of a future do we want and that’s the future that we should be arguing about,” says Hatang.

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