Denial of apartheid as a crime against humanity should be a crime – ANC

Party says FW de Klerk Foundation's actions are a betrayal of the memory of President Nelson Mandela

ANC condemns FW de Klerk Foundation statement on apartheid

16 February 2020

The ANC condemns the statement by the FW de Klerk Foundation denying that apartheid was a crime against humanity as a blatant whitewash.

Mr. FW De Klerk’s ascertain in the interview, twenty five years into our democracy, which denies that apartheid was a crime against humanity, flies in the face of our commitments to reconciliation and nation-building. The ANC calls on Mr De Klerk and his foundation not to undermine the compact that forms the foundation of our democracy, which is that we deal with the past through institutional mechanisms and the rule of law.

The decision and the motivation therefore by first the OAU and then the whole world through the United Nations to declare apartheid a crime against humanity, has been well documented. The FW De Klerk Foundation, instead of continuing to plead blind ignorance, would do well to research this history.

Apartheid as a system was both widespread and systemic, based on the belief in the superiority of the white minority and the inferiority of the black majority. This belief found expression, building on the foundations of colonialism and slavery, in the Union Of South Africa Of 1910, and over 80 years Of systematic oppression of the disenfranchised majority.

It found expression in land dispossession through the Land Acts of 1912 and 1936; the forced removal of people; the over 17 million South Africans, who between 1921 and 1986 were arrested because of the pass laws; the deliberate policies to under-educate the black child; the exclusion of black workers and professionals from certain professions; the destruction of food security of the majority through poll tax and land dispossession; and the list goes on.

Indeed, apartheid was a brutal system of oppression and underdevelopment, and the United Nations in 1973 correctly declared it a crime against humanity, defined as "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."

The nation is therefore indeed shocked, and we are all asking: Mr De Klerk, was apartheid anything else than this definition by the entire world?

We shall not abandon the project of nation-building despite these deeply ill-advised statements by the FW De Klerk's Foundation, we shall not be derailed from the project of continuing to rebuild our nation from the ashes Of apartheid, and its legacies Of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We shall continue to work together to ensure the human dignity of all our people, and the tasks set in the Constitution of our land to "recognize the injustices of the past... heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights."

The FW de Klerk Foundation's actions are a betrayal of the memory of President Nelson Mandela, whose strong commitment to reconciliation saw him concede to share the Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk in 1993.

That we chose the path of reconciliation through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and not that of a Nuremberg Trial, is due to the willingness of the South African people to forgive their former oppressors.

The FW de Klerk Foundation should not interpret this as license to insult the people of this country with its reactionary views.

It should be remembered, as President Ramaphosa noted at the 30th commemoration since President Mandela's release from prison, that FW de Klerk did not release President Mandela out of the kindness of his heart; "but because of the pressure and the struggles that the people of our country waged."

At a time when the bonds of social cohesion are in greater need than ever of being strengthened, the utterances by the FW de Klerk Foundation also appear to be a clear and deliberate attempt to incite race hatred.

The South African Constitution is clear that freedom of speech does not extend to what constitutes hate speech, and incitement to cause harm.

The ANC urges the government it leads to tighten provisions around hate speech, and declare the denial of apartheid as a crime against humanity as a crime, as is done in other jurisdictions such as Germany where holocaust denial is not tolerated in any form.

In the interests 0f 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 the building of a South Africa we all want.

Issued by Pule Mabe, National Spokesperson, ANC, 16 February 2020