De Klerk stalked by controversy in death


Harare (New Ziana) – The last leader of apartheid South Africa FW de Klerk has died aged 85.
De Klerk, who led the repressive apartheid state between 1989 and 1994, had been diagnosed with cancer early this year.
Going by reactions to his demise, de Klerk, who played a key role in ushering in black majority rule in South Africa, continues to divide opinion even in death just like in his life.
While some praised him for taking the extraordinary step of extending an olive branch and freeing apartheid victim Nelson Mandela after 27 years in jail, others still question the compromises extended to de Klerk at independence.
News24 quoted Human rights lawyer Howard Varney describing de Klerk as an “apologist for apartheid, claiming till the end that it was not a crime against humanity and it was not so bad.”
A long time critic of de Klerk, Julius Malema who leads the Economic Freedom Fighters could not miss an opportunity to charge at de Klerk.
“The apartheid sponsored media of south Africa including the one that black young people supposedly own (405) is spreading fake news by referring to him as a former president; he is a former apartheid president; stop misleading the kids.”
Prominent South African actress Pearl Thusi also vented her anger at the man who last headed one of the world’s most brutal colonial regimes.
“If FW de Klerk gets a state assisted funeral, that will be a huge middle finger to the people who suffered under the apartheid regime in this country. In fact, we must disrupt that funeral if it is declared a state funeral. There is just no way,” she tweeted.
However, others expressed fond memories of the late.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said de Klerk took a courageous decision to stir South Africa on a path towards democracy.
“Deputy President de Klerk’s passing weeks before the 25th anniversary of our democratic constitution should inspire all of us to reflect on the birth of our democracy and on our shared duty to remain true to the values of our constitution,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the de Klerk foundation would in due course announce arrangements for the funeral.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also paid tribute to de Klerk for his role in South Africa’s independence.
“I am saddened by the death of FW de Klerk, a leader who changed the course of history by freeing Nelson Mandela and working alongside him to end apartheid and bring democracy to South Africa. De Klerk will be remembered for his steely courage and realism in doing what was manifestly right and leaving South Africa a better country,” Johnson tweeted.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said de Klerk made a raft of commendable changes during his leadership.
“His decision, within a year of taking over the presidency from PW Botha in 1989, to unban liberation movements, release Nelson Mandela from prison, lift the ban on political marches and begin the four year negotiation process towards our first democratic election was a watershed moment in our country’s history,” DA leader Johan Steenhuisen said in a statement.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said de Klerk would forever be linked to Nelson Mandela in the annals of South African history.
“De Klerk’s legacy is a big one. It is also an uneven one, something South Africans are called to reckon with in this moment,” the foundation said.
De Klerk is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren.
New Ziana

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