A FREDERIK Van Zyl Slabbert catalogue is set to be made available to researchers and the public at Stellenbosch University (SU) next week.
Slabbert was best known for being leader of the official opposition – the Progressive Federal Party – in the House of Assembly from 1979 to 1986 and has been lauded for spurring democracy in South Africa.
Slabbert was also SU’s chancellor from 2008 to 2009.
University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said The Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Collection was donated to SU by the Slabbert family in 2014 and had been catalogued over the last few months.
“Slabbert’s documents provide a compelling record of his involvement in South African politics during the years of apartheid, the transitional period and the shaping of a democratic South Africa,” Viljoen said.
Slabbert sparked huge political controversy in 1986 when he resigned from Parliament, saying it had become irrelevant.
He ventured into commerce, lecturing at the Wits Business School and engaging in political consultancy. In 1987 he joined a group consisting of mainly Afrikaners on a journey to Dakar, Senegal, where 10 days of talks were held with the then banned ANC.
This meeting followed the formation of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for SA (Idasa).
Head of the SU Library and Information Service Ellen Tise said: “Together with the collections of controversial politicians such as DF Malan and Japie Basson, as well as those of sociologists SP Cilliers and Dian Joubert – under whom Slabbert studied and which are already housed in the manuscripts section – it opens exciting new possibilities for researchers in South African history and politics.”
Viljoen said there had already been local and international interest in using the Slabbert collection for the filming of a TV documentary. He said books and articles were also being written.
The collection includes correspondence, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary speeches, lectures, articles and documents reflecting Slabbert’s involvement with government legislation and resistance movements, both as leader of the opposition and personally.
“The collection provides a record of Slabbert’s deep involvement in the workings of South African politics during the years of National Party government rule, the transitional period and the shaping of the ‘new South Africa’,” Tise said.
“Today these documents have historical value far beyond the purpose for which they were created.”
She said many of the documents had never been in the public domain and provided fascinating facts.
Slabbert had a close connection with SU.
Starting as a student, he went on to become a lecturer before being appointed university chancellor in 2008.
He died peacefully at his home in Johannesburg on May 14, 2010.
The catalogue will be launched in the Africana Room in the JS Gericke Library at SU at 5pm tomorrow.