Ramaphosa says, South Africa’s FW de Klerk fears democracy

President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the memorial service for former President FW de Klerk in Cape Town
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa sits next to Elita de Klerk, widow of former President FW de Klerk at a state memorial service in Cape Town, South Africa, December 12, 2021. REUTERS / Mike Hutchings

December 12, 2021

By Tim Cocks

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday described the late FW de Klerk as “brave” for defying his partisans to negotiate an end to white minority rule but also reiterated the horrors of the regime he led and the fear of democratic change. .

Frederik Willem de Klerk, who is credited with overseeing the peaceful transition from a white minority in South Africa to a black majority government led by Nelson Mandela, died last month at the age of 20. 85 after battling cancer.

“In taking such a bold step, FW de Klerk turned against many in his party and against many white South Africans,” Ramaphosa said Sunday at a state memorial service for for the old leader.

De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993 for his role in eliminating apartheid, but many black South Africans suspect he was motivated entirely by pragmatism rather than by utilitarianism. change of heart, as the government was isolated internationally and faced with the prospect of civilian war.

However, on his deathbed, de Klerk apologized “without dignity… for the pain and hurt as well as the outrage and damage that racism has caused”.

Ramaphosa began Sunday’s eulogy by reminding mourners that de Klerk had been “brought up in the ideology of racial primacy (and) committed to defending a abhorrent and inhuman system.” humanitarian”.

Highlighting its inhumanity, Ramaphosa recalls the murder and torture of African National Congress activists who now rule the country, such as the hanging of Solomon Mahlangu.

He suggested that de Klerk had several options when it came to starting peace negotiations that opened up democracy.

“The country faces a stark choice between a negotiated settlement and protracted civil strife… far more devastating than anything we have ever experienced,” he said.

Ramaphosa also notes that de Klerk is conflicted about the democracy he helped initiate.

“Even when he was involved in the negotiations, he was afraid of majority rule,” the president said.

After some deliberation, de Klerk’s funeral was a private one last month. Holding a state funeral for a former leader of the apartheid regime, even one whose negotiations ended, may have provoked protests.

However, the government has declared four days of national mourning, with a state-level memorial service.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by David Goodman) Ramaphosa says, South Africa’s FW de Klerk fears democracy


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