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7 things about SA’s last apartheid president

FILE – FW de Klerk died after a battle with cancer at age 85. File photo: Leon Muller

FILE – FW de Klerk died after a battle with cancer at age 85. File photo: Leon Muller

Published Nov 11, 2021


Cape Town – As news of the death of South Africa’s last apartheid president FW de Klerk made headlines on Thursday, here are seven things about the former statesman who served as president between 1989 and 1994 and who facilitated the country’s transition from apartheid rule to democracy.


Frederik Willem de Klerk was born on March 18, 1936, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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De Klerk received a law degree (with honours) from Potchefstroom University in 1958. Soon afterwards he began to establish a successful law firm in Vereeniging and became active in civic and business affairs.

Career in government

In 1975, De Klerk became information officer of the Transvaal National Party. He held several ministerial positions in the Cabinet of former president PW Botha, including Minister of Post and Telecommunications and Sport and Recreation (1978–1979); Mines, Energy and Environmental Planning (1979–1980); Mineral and Energy Affairs (1980–1982); Internal Affairs (1982–1985); and National Education and Planning (1984–1989).

Ascension to presidency

When PW Botha resigned as leader of the National Party in February 1989, he was succeeded by De Klerk.

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Reforms to dismantle apartheid

On February 2, 1990, De Klerk delivered a speech at the opening of the 1990 session of the Parliament of South Africa. In this speech he announced sweeping reforms that marked the beginning of the negotiated transition from apartheid to constitutional democracy.

Nobel Peace Prize

De Klerk and late former president Nelson Mandela were joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1993.

Deputy president after 1994 elections

After the national presidential election on April 27, 1994, De Klerk served as one of two executive deputy presidents to President Mandela until 1996, when his party withdrew from the Government of National Unity.

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African News Agency (ANA)

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FW De Klerk