De Klerk brushes off criticism about homeland claims
Former president FW de Klerk, who opened The South African Gold Coin Exchange (Scoin) outlet at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront last night, was unfazed by the international controversy raging over comments he made on CNN over South Africa’s former homelands.
I don’t want to react to the twisted interpretation of what I have said… what I have said was taken out of context.”
But De Klerk called on people to remember that he had been at the forefront of the process which led to the end of apartheid, when he announced the unbanning of the ANC and the SACP on February 2, 1990.
“I was the one together with the fellow leaders in the (former ruling) National Party who for all practical purposes abolished apartheid on February 2, 1990.
Why would I have nostalgia for what I have abolished and for what I have apologised,” De Klerk said.
Alan Demby, the exchange’s executive chairman said: “We regard Mr De Klerk’s acceptance of our invitation to be guest of honour at the store’s opening as recognition of Scoin’s rapid rise to domestic and international prominence in recent years, as well as our on-going support of the FW de Klerk Foundation.”
Scoin shops offer coin collectors and bullion investors the opportunity to buy bullion, collectable silver and gold coins and medallions – including ones honouring former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and De Klerk himself.
In a CNN interview with Christianne Amanpour, De Klerk denied that black people in the former homelands had been disenfranchised. He claimed that they had voted.
“They were not put in homelands, the homelands were historically there. If only the developed world would put so much money in Africa… as we poured into those homelands. How many universities were built? How many schools?” he asked.
Noting that he had become disenchanted with the homeland vision, he said that at the height of apartheid “the goal was separate but equal, but separate but equal failed”.
His spokesman, Dave Steward, said it should be remembered “that as a young man De Klerk grew up in an Afrikaner society that was still deeply aggrieved by the loss of the right of Afrikaners to self-determination in the Anglo-Boer War”.
Their right to self-determination had been internationally recognised by all the leading powers of that time.
The central theme of Afrikaner politics when De Klerk was growing up was the burning wish of his people to regain their right to rule themselves. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with this wish, Steward said.
“As a young politician De Klerk supported a solution that would ensure that Afrikaners – and the broader white community – would be able to retain their right to rule themselves in the parts of the country that they had traditionally controlled. They accepted that the other constituent peoples of South Africa should enjoy the same right in the territories that they had always occupied. A great deal of effort and money was invested in the project of developing the 10 national homelands and culminated ultimately in four independent states and six self-governing territories,” said Steward, his former director-general, who now manages the FW de Klerk Foundation.
There is also nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea that the problems of territories that include different peoples should be addressed on the basis of territorial partition. This, after all, is what has happened in such societies all over the world – in the territorial divisions of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and, more recently, in Sudan. It is the solution that has long been advocated for Israel/Palestine,” Steward said.
Asked how he viewed the current state of the nation yesterday, De Klerk said that if he were to draw up a balance sheet “the positives would outstrip the negatives”.
The country has well balanced macro-economic policies… I am not a pessimist at all. What is wrong… can be put right (if) we all join hands and improve things,” he said.
On the negative side were high unemployment levels, an education system facing crisis and the fact that the country was not achieving the growth rate “we should be achieving”.