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Allister Sparks sticks by his Verwoerd comments

Allister Sparks says Hendrik Verwoerd built the National Party in an extraordinarily effective way.

Veteran journalist Allister Sparks. Picture: Who’s Who.

JOHANNESBURG - Veteran journalist Allister Sparks is sticking by his controversial comment that apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd was a smart politician.

Sparks found himself at the centre of a Twitter storm yesterday after he listed Verwoerd as one of the many "smart" politicians he had met during his 64-year long career.

He made the comment while paying tribute to outgoing Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille at the party's Federal Congress in Port Elizabeth.

He says while Verwoerd's policies were monstrous the politician built the National Party in an extraordinarily effective way.

"What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to say he was dumb or stupid? He wasn't stupid."

The journalist's comments unleashed a flood of reaction on Twitter, with suggestions that the party had lauded Verwoerd.

Sparks was Zille's editor at the Rand Daily Mail when she broke the story of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko's death at the hands of apartheid security police.

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