De Klerk sanguine about SA

Fromer South African president F W de Klerk says despite all the negatives facing South Africa, he is very positive about the country.

Speaking in Durban on Tuesday night where he, Nelson Mandela and ANC president Jacob Zuma were honoured by a non-governmental organisation called One Nation Foundation for their role in bringing about democracy, De Klerk said South Africa had a remarkable capacity to overcome its difficulties.

He said it was true that the country was living in an era of doom, despondency and enormous problems, such as the scourge of HIV and Aids and crime.

"As we did before in 1994, I feel we have a capacity to do so again. We succeeded in resolving our problems by peaceful means when everybody expected war and violence.

"We have one of the best constitutions in the world. We should be proud of this constitution, which provides the framework for a functioning multiparty democracy, independent courts and other institutions that stand for (the) advancement of human rights."

He said the country had already held three elections and that two presidents had relinquished their power through constitutional means. Although former president Thabo Mbeki had left under difficult conditions, even that had been done constitutionally.

"These are all signs of growing constitutional maturity. Our democracy is growing up and there are open debates which will take us to robust contestations," he said.

It was up to all South Africans, irrespective of race or colour, rich or poor, to take what God had given to the country and to ensure that children would look back at this time and say that those were the years when South Africans came together, grasped the opportunities and made the country great.

Shamilla Pather, a founder member of One Nation, said De Klerk and Mandela had played significant roles in bringing about change in South Africa.

She said Zuma had, in his personal capacity, helped the charity community in KZN by mobilising resources and spending time in promoting the activities of the organisation.

Mandela could not travel to Durban. Film-maker Anant Singh accepted the award on his behalf. Michael Zuma accepted the award on behalf of his brother, Jacob.

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