Wits University political analyst Professor Susan Booysen said if organisations wanted to gather South Africans for a broad discussion on their future they had to rise above the challenges brought by personalities such as De Klerk.
Booysen said it would be hard to convince many South Africans to look beyond De Klerk’s history and his association with apartheid.
“I don't think they can win new battles by bringing apartheid associations. These are associations with an old order and, even if he (De Klerk) shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela, there should be more distance between him and the dialogue,” said Booysen.
On Friday, De Klerk shared the stage with former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe to launch the National Dialogue Initiative being led by nine foundations.
The dialogue is unprecedented in the country’s history.
All three former presidents said the dialogue was overdue and aimed to open a space for South Africans to find solutions to the country's problems.
It will be taken countrywide to allow ordinary citizens to take part.
Booysens said the inclusion of De Klerk should be done carefully as there was a bigger political battle playing out.
The EFF said it would not enter a dialogue with an “apartheid leader”. Some of the party's members stormed the gathering and demanded the removal of De Klerk.
The EFF said it would only participate with Motlanthe and Mbeki. Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said De Klerk’s presence posed a “risk” but political heavyweights such as Mbeki, Motlanthe and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka could help the initiative rise above the issue.
He said the dialogue's success lay in it not being partisan.