This past week, instead of dissecting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, South Africans have been pre-occupied by apartheid’s last head of state, FW de Klerk, and his long-held view that the murderous oppressive system was not a crime against humanity.
Mind, he had uttered this days before Thursday’s SONA, much like he had done several times previously – the EFF saw the opportunity and called him out on the big stage.
De Klerk’s foundation, which carries his name, issued an apology on Monday, a retrospective or long overdue mea culpa of sorts that some may suggest was delivered in response to the collective spleen venting by (many) South Africans rather than an overnight ideological turnaround seeing-of-the-light catharsis.
Political analyst and author Dr Ralph Mathkega says that De Klerk’s recent repeated proclamation, notwithstanding the apology, is as a result of him being emboldened by the moral decay and decline of the African National Congress.
Wilhelm Verwoerd, senior researcher and facilitator, Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University, points out that De Klerk’s statement (again, notwithstanding the apology) reminded him of how much “white work” was urgently needed among white South Africans.
Professor Bheki R Mngomezulu, Full Professor of Political Science and Deputy Dean of Research at the University of the Western Cape, argues that accepting the apology would be premised on consistency and the resolve to promote social cohesion and nation building.
The De Klerk issue came in very handy; and it caught the ANC and apartheid apologists by surprise. The backlash was not anticipated and the EFF walks away with another set of political points in a very dry season for competitors. I am enraged by De Klerk’s daring attitude towards South Africans of all races; and his unfounded confidence that he might be representing a significant fraction of the white population, writes Ralph Mathekga
The “magnitude gap” between how those responsible for apartheid look back at that evil system and the grinding lived experience of this “human abomination” continues to haunt South Africa. De Klerk’s limited historical and moral vision is, tragically, still representative of many from similar backgrounds, writes Wilhelm Verwoerd
Accepting his apology would not be tantamount to saying that South Africans believe that he did not know that apartheid was evil and that it was declared a crime against humanity by the UN. After all, Africans in general and South Africans, in particular, are a forgiving people, writes Bheki R Mngomezulu.