Then president Nelson Mandela and one of his deputies, FW de Klerk, outside Parliament after the approval of the new Constitution in 1996. Sunday will mark 30 years since De Klerk’s speech in Parliament which led to the end of apartheid. African News Agency (ANA) Archives
FW DE KLERK rose from the dead once again this week for the commemoration of the historic, pivotal episode in our history that catapulted him high on the global stage.

You can’t criticise the old man for taking out his Nobel medal, polishing it a little and basking in its golden brilliance. All South Africans, as well as peace-loving people generally, should stop and reflect on De Klerk’s big moment of February 2, 1990.

Yes, indeed he once walked tall and stood among the Nelson Mandelas and Mikhail Gorbachevs of this world for his part in the “miracle” of the 1990s.

South Africa is at another crossroads and in desperate need of another miracle maker, someone to pull us out of the doldrums once again.

I write here not to praise De Klerk, or to demand that he hand back his prize, or suggest that he forever holds his peace in retirement and beyond.

De Klerk is no messiah. Neither is he a saint.

He is the man who found himself at the right time and place, and had the necessary courage to do what others had failed to do.

He has every right to come out and polish his legacy once in a while and bask in it. But there’s so much more he and all of us can do.

The hero-villain debate is not helping anyone.

What we need are new De Klerks and bold action. Will we see any next week?

* Xaba is the editor of the Independent on Saturday