ANC slams FW de Klerk Foundation over ‘ill-advised’ statement on apartheid

The foundation has released a statement in which it reiterates the former president's statement that he does not agree that apartheid was a crime, during an interview.

FILE: Former president FW de Klerk. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The African National Congress (ANC) has condemned the statement by the FW de Klerk Foundation which, reiterates his denial that apartheid was a crime against humanity.

This comes after de Klerk’s presence at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday caused a stir in the Parliamentary chambers and around the country – just days after an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) where de Klerk said, while he apologises for apartheid, he does not believe it can be labelled a crime.

Social media users debated the former leader’s role in the regime which oppressed black South Africans and oversaw the killings of thousands – including prominent political figures such as Solomon Mahlangu, the Cradock Four, Onkgopotse Tiro, and Steve Biko, among many others.

The party said, “Indeed, apartheid was a brutal system of oppression and underdevelopment, and the United Nations in 1973 correctly declared it a crime against humanity, defined as "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

* International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

The party further describes the statement as ‘ill-advised’.

“We shall not be derailed from the project of continuing to rebuild our nation from the ashes of apartheid, and its legacies of poverty, unemployment and inequality,” the statement read.

The ANC says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a show of the willingness of the South Africans to forgive their former oppressors and should not be misinterpreted as a license for the foundation to insult.

“It should be remembered, as President Ramaphosa noted at the 30th commemoration since President Mandela’s release from prison, that FW de Klerk did not release President Mandela out of the kindness of his heart; “’but because of the pressure and the struggles that the people of our country waged’.”

Earlier this week, Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindzi said she was heartbroken by De Klerk's‘ justification’ of apartheid.

Mandela tweeted that she was heartbroken about what happened to her mother and many others under FW de Klerk’s watch during apartheid.

On Thursday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) delayed proceedings at the Sona by objecting to De Klerk’s presence as one of the President’s guests.

In an interview after walking of Parliament, the EFF’s Julius Malema said: “For him to come and show us the middle finger and say to us that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, means this person has got no regret. It means he does not deserve a place at a democratic and democratic Parliament. Our actions yesterday were provoked by him saying apartheid was not a crime.”

WATCH: EFF Sona walkout, objects to De Klerk's presence