Response to FW de Klerk, the last president of the apartheid era
15 February 2020
FW De Klerk is the last President of the apartheid era – a racist, sexist, violent and murderous regime of national oppression, patriarchal domination and merciless capitalist exploitation. The United Nations General Assembly was correct to adopt the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid in 1973 and declare apartheid, which was systemic and widespread, a crime against humanity.
This is a United Nations convention and resolution, rather than, as de Klerk wants society to believe, “an ‘agitprop’ project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatise white South Africans…” Apartheid cannot be justified in any manner whatsoever, contrary to what de Klerk seeks to do. His apology for the havoc and sufferings endured by millions of our people is therefore insincere.
While we have made commendable social progress since ending the apartheid era in 1994, the hard fact is that our country is yet to overcome the legacy of apartheid. Therefore the sufferings endured by the people as a result of apartheid are not limited to the generations of the oppressed that lived during the apartheid era but continue to varying extents as a result of its entrenched or persisting legacy.
As stated in our Umsebenzi Online publication on 5 February, the unbanning of our organisations in 1990 was not a result of goodwill or change of heart by de Klerk. The SACP is proud to have formed part of our liberation movement that fought against colonialism and apartheid and to have waged the struggle for democracy and social emancipation. The unbanning of our organisations was a direct result of decades of struggle that led to the defeat and dislodging of the apartheid regime.
The Communist Party was the first to be outlawed in South Africa, in 1950, by de Klerk’s National Party after coming to power in a racist election held in 1948. The other parties were banned ten years later. Despite the unbanning in 1990, we have many people who are unaccounted for to this day. The apartheid regime through its repressive security apparatus was behind their disappearance. The democratic government must deepen efforts to ensure accountability, closure and justice.
The recent comments made by de Klerk trying to conceal the violent nature of apartheid and its involvement in generating and sponsoring what he called “black-on-black violence” are unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. The so-called ‘black-on-black’ violence was in essence an apartheid war against the liberation movement and the oppressed, using the apartheid surrogates as its frontline storm troopers. The apartheid security apparatus was fully behind the so-called black-on-black violence. The spurious comments made by de Klerk are a lie that was long exposed during the apartheid era.
Following our first democratic general election held in 1994, President Nelson Mandela appointed de Klerk to serve in the Government of National Unity as one of its two deputy presidents. This was part of our negotiated settlement to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy. De Klerk’s utterances trying to justify apartheid have far-reaching implications. What they reflect is that while the formerly oppressed advanced and embraced reconciliation and the building of national unity guided by the principle of non-racialism, certain sections of the former oppressors did not embrace the transformation process.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, SACP, 16 February 2020