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EFF calls for De Klerk to be stripped of privileges

The EFF said the FW de Klerk Foundation's statement lacked sincerity and relevance.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Monday called for FW de Klerk to be stripped of his privileges as a former head of state.

"The EFF maintains that in order for true reconciliation to be achieved in this country, men who perpetuated unspeakable crimes against black people in this country, like De Klerk, must face the might of the law. He must be ostracised from the project of a new and equal South Africa and have all privileges afforded to him as a former leader of the State stripped. The state De Klerk led was collapsed and so must all respect he is afforded," it said in a statement.

The party also rejected an apology by the FW de Klerk Foundation for a statement defending the former apartheid-era president's views on apartheid not being a crime against humanity.

"The EFF unequivocally rejects the FW de Klerk Foundation’s apology regarding its statement on apartheid not being a crime against humanity. The foundation, which De Klerk has been using as a proxy to rationalise his hateful apartheid apologist utterances needs to learn to stay out of affairs, which are beyond its grasp," it added.

On 2 February 2020, the former deputy president of a democratic South Africa commemorated the 30th anniversary of a speech he gave on the same day in 1990, calling to an end the banning of the ANC and the South African Communist Party, and the release of Nelson Mandela and other leaders from prison. De Klerk was the last apartheid president of the country.

After the interview this year, SABC reporter Manelisi Dubase asked De Klerk his thoughts on the United Nation's decision to call apartheid a crime against humanity.

"I don't fully agree with that. I'm not justifying apartheid in any way whatsoever … I profusely apologised for that … but there is a difference between calling something a crime. Like genocide is a crime. Apartheid cannot be, for instance, compared with genocide. There was never genocide," De Klerk said in that interview.

When Dubase highlighted that there were mass killings during apartheid, De Klerk said more people "died because of black-on-black violence than because of apartheid".

"As the EFF, we reject the apology as one that lacks sincerity and relevance, as the individual who was the source of these hateful views remains unrepentant on his comments and avoids accountability by using a foundation, which bears his name," the party said.

In the statement released earlier on Monday, which states it's from De Klerk himself but has been issued under his foundation, the former president said he agreed with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation that his statement was totally unacceptable.

He also said this was not the time to quibble about the degrees of the unacceptability of apartheid.

The De Klerk Foundation apologised for the impact of that statement on the public.

“The FW de Klerk Foundation has accordingly decided to withdraw its statement of 14 February unconditionally and apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused.”

The statement said nothing about De Klerk's comments during the SABC interview.

The EFF maintained its calls for him to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize he attained along with former president Nelson Mandela in 1993.

"De Klerk, who was elected president by a racist system and at the exclusion of the majority of people in this country, must be subjected to an inquest of all his crimes and those he was complicit in. He must be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize as he has shown his lack of remorse and willingness to build a just South Africa that is mindful of the harmful nature of our past and its impact on the present.

EMPTY APOLOGIES

"We believe that the time for empty apologies in South Africa as a means of reconciliation is over. Apologies for the brutality black South Africans have experienced has taken various forms in South Africa, with all of them being publicity stunts. There must be a decisive move from efforts of reconciliation to justice, as justice is the only form of recourse that can be taken against those who refuse to repent for the evils they have committed," it said.

The party said the lack of justice was the reason why black South Africans remained without land and without access to the economy.

The EFF said apologies from "people who never apologised" gave De Klerk inspiration to believe that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

"That he lied to former President Thabo Mbeki and faked ignorance of the UN declaration on Apartheid is a sign of mockery by a man who has justified his views and refuses to accept his role in the deepening of colonialism and anti-black racism in this country," it said.

At the same time, the has also rejected De Klerk’s apology.

In a statement released later on Monday, it said: “The former apartheid president cannot insult our hard-earned democracy with pure lies and inaccurate propaganda and simply just get away with it based on a half-baked apology. The apology statement by the former apartheid president claims that there was a confusion which never existed.”

It said the former president had no space in a democratic South Africa.