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Just like the Nazis, De Klerk and his co-conspirators should be brought to justice for apartheid

FW De Klerk, in his capacity as a right-wing nationalist and apartheid leader, directly and indirectly, inflicted physical, emotional and psychological harm to millions of black South Africans, says the writer. Picture: Brenton Geach/ANA Archives

FW De Klerk, in his capacity as a right-wing nationalist and apartheid leader, directly and indirectly, inflicted physical, emotional and psychological harm to millions of black South Africans, says the writer. Picture: Brenton Geach/ANA Archives

Published Feb 19, 2020


Former apartheid president  FW de Klerk has come under fire recently for saying that he does not believe that apartheid was a crime against humanity. 

Just like the  Nazi at the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War, he must be brought to book, along with the many apartheid co-conspirators and perpetrators who were let off the hook by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the early 90s.

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De Klerk, on national television, continued to perpetuate a right wing/white supremacist narrative, often maintained by apartheid apologists that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, this despite all the statutes and the United Nations resolutions that have confirmed that it was.

There is, and can be, no debate that apartheid was a crime against humanity.

De Klerk has since been forced to withdraw and apologise for his comments after widespread condemnation, largely thanks to the  Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who challenged his presence at the  State of Nation Address (SONA) last week.

Other prominent individuals and organisations, such as Archbishop Emeritus  Desmond Tutu and the  ANC, have also strongly condemned him. 

It now begs the question of how we hold to account those that were responsible for a crime against humanity. In the case of De Klerk, people are focused on the fact that he entered into negotiations with the late former president Nelson Mandela and the ANC, which led to the 1994 elections. 

They have never focused on the destruction that happened with De Klerk as a right wing conservative member of the National Party.

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De Klerk, in his capacity as a right wing nationalist and apartheid leader, directly and indirectly inflicted physical, emotional and psychological harm to millions of black South Africans. 

If De Klerk were a Nazi after the Second World War, he would have been tried at the Nuremberg Trials and found guilty of crimes similar to those perpetrated here under apartheid, he would have served a jail term and possibly even been executed.

In choosing not to take action against De Klerk, South Africans have forgiven him. But, we have not forgotten.

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It is only now, under the current political environment, that groupings such as AfriForum, Solidarity, the  Democratic Alliance (DA), have become emboldened to be unapologetic about the institutionalised racism of the past, and the racism that they continue to display today.

Along similar lines, there is another question that requires an answer. Is  Naspers chairman and billionaire Koos Bekker any different to De Klerk?

What about the likes of the Serbian Branko Brkic from the Daily Maverick and his band of amaBhungane allies? These white-owned and white-run platforms continue to serve as a medium for mainly white journalists and editors, to actively drive apartheid-era style propaganda machines – all aimed at targeting black businesses, black executives, black academics, black political leaders and black professionals.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

These entities and others - controlled, owned and managed by white minorities - appear to be hell-bent on destroying black excellence and the economic emancipation of our people.

Naspers was the propaganda arm of the apartheid regime, serving to defend the interests of the white minority in South Africa.

The only difference between then and now is that they hide behind the mask of Naspers and Media24, using only a sprinkling of black executives in their effort to mask their true intentions, which are to cement the economic power of the white establishment in South Africa today and make sure that they continue to dominate.

If we look at the funders who reportedly contributed to the CR17 campaign, we begin to find the answers.  From the available information, it appears that about 90 percent of the CR17 funders are white persons of "influence", and corporates who are closely aligned to those who supported the brutal apartheid regime of De Klerk, BJ Vorster and those who came before them.

In the case of Naspers, there is apparent historical proof and documents that factually demonstrate how they supported the apartheid regime. For their support of the apartheid regime, Naspers benefited through commercial preferences such as textbook contracts for state schools – all funded by the apartheid government.

Some, after imbibing Mandela’s rainbow nation elixir, argue that we should forgive Naspers, as they are now playing a vital role in our economy. Let us assume that there is merit in that argument; my view is that they are still permitted to continue to dominate the media narrative in South Africa.

Former favours for pals have built a solid foundation from which subliminal messages of institutional racism are broadcast, disguised as information and news.

While we embrace a "free" economy in South Africa under democracy, I must wonder what would have happened had Naspers been held accountable for their role during apartheid.

Imagine if the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Germany, Joseph Goebbels, had continued to own the media in a post-war Germany? Yet, that is precisely what has happened here. It is an almost absurd situation that we find ourselves in. We are in a country where the apartheid media continues to dominate, to the detriment of black excellence and progress.

There are other examples that are even more dangerous to the future of black South Africans, because they are less obvious to us.

As an example, the Daily Maverick, which is owned by a Serbian, projects itself as a non-partisan media house. It is, however, white-owned, white-managed and employs mainly white journalists.

What about who backs this publication? Now there’s a question. For an organisation that professes to transparency and upholding media freedom, Daily Maverick has been strangely quiet and steadfastly mute on who their backers are.

Today, Daily Maverick’s revenue is contributed to by subscriptions, but that was only recently. The reality is that they received tens of millions of Rands through the likes of the Oppenheimer family and a group of Afrikaner businessmen from Stellenbosch.

As a reminder, the Oppenheimers, whose wealth is $6bn, benefited immensely from the homeland system during apartheid.

Their wealth was created from the cheap labour of black people, using them to work in the mines in an exploitative environment.

Our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and uncles were stripped naked, degraded and dehumanised when entering the mines, working so they could feed their families.

Agricultural land was taken away from our rural communities, who were then moved to barren lands.

The Oppenheimers have been directly responsible for the destruction of black families and black men in particular, benefiting extraordinarily from apartheid and they, too, have even owned media.

Now they have emerged as funders of the Daily Maverick and CR17. Are we then surprised that the narrative of this publication is anti-black? Are we surprised that they are supporting a narrative that is anti-transformation and anti-liberation?

De Klerk, Koos Bekker, the Oppenheimers and all those businesspersons that directly benefited from apartheid - a crime against humanity - must surely be held accountable?

At the very least, they should not be allowed to continue with their insidious anti-black narratives. A "free" media does not mean that the status quo pre-apartheid should continue.

Speak out South Africans and make your voices heard. 

* Ayanda Mdluli is a senior journalist at Independent Media.

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