Own Correspondent|The De Klerk Foundation released a statement on Friday 14 February, following the way in which the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) “bullied” the former president at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday.
The EFF claimed — before President Cyril Ramaphosa could begin his address — that his [De Klerk’s] hands were dripping “with blood,” including the blood of those who had been slaughtered at the Boipatong township in 1992.
The red party also claimed that one week earlier, De Klerk in an interview, said apartheid was not a “crime against humanity” and on that basis, should be immediately removed from the chamber. Those demands were later rejected by speaker Thandi Modise.
The foundation, established in 1999, to promote the causes for which De Klerk had worked during his presidency, said that what took place at SONA was “wave after wave of vitriolic attacks by Julius Malema and EFF members of Parliament, in their trademark red boiler suits.
‘De Klerk acknowledged the grave injustices committed under apartheid’
The former president, who will be 84-years-old next month, sat impassively in the public gallery as he watched the spectacle from the EFF below.
De Klerk — known for being the president of South Africa during apartheid (1989 to 1994) has according to the foundation, repeatedly “acknowledged the grave injustices committed under apartheid and has sincerely apologised on a number of occasions to those who suffered under previous governments.”
“These were more than empty words; he dedicated his entire presidency to the abolition of apartheid and the negotiation of a new Constitution that would entrench the rights of all South Africans regardless of race. He oversaw the process that culminated in the repeal of all the remaining apartheid laws,” it added.
Foundation: But was apartheid a crime against humanity?
The foundation said that in November 1966, the UN General Assembly declared apartheid to be a crime against humanity — and in 1973 adopted the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
“Both the Resolution and the Convention were political initiatives of the Soviet Union – which had itself committed atrocious crimes against humanity that involved the killing of millions of people,” it said.
In 1976, when the Convention came into force, 23 of the 31 signatories were, according to Freedom House in New York, “not free”.
“Six were partly free – and only two were free. Ironically, South Africa was classified as ‘partly free’ — and had a better human rights score than 27 of the signatories,” it added.
The 109 states that subsequently joined the Convention included none of the core democracies. According to the United States delegate:
“Deplorable as it is, we cannot, from a legal point of view, accept that apartheid can in this manner be made a crime against humanity. Crimes against humanity are so grave in nature that they must be meticulously elaborated and strictly construed under existing international law…”
“The idea that apartheid was ‘a crime against humanity’ was, and remains, an ‘agitprop’ project initiated by the Soviets and their African National Congress (ANC)/South African Communist Party (SACP) allies to stigmatise white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity — which have generally included totalitarian repression and the slaughter of millions of people,” said the foundation.
According to the statement, some 23 000 people died in South Africa’s political violence between 1960 and 1994 — of whom fewer than 5 000 were killed by the security forces. Most of the rest of the deaths occurred in the conflict between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the ANC. In Kenya, the British interned more than 320 000 people during the Mau-Mau uprising and hanged more than a thousand Mau-Mau members. In Algeria, the French killed more than 140 000 people in a war that claimed some 700 000 lives.
“None of this is meant to whitewash the injustices that were undoubtedly committed under apartheid. However, we need a balanced understanding of the past — not one based on a ‘simplistic black/white, good/evil framework’ — but on a framework that reflects the infinite shades of grey that actually characterise history,” it added.
It is on this basis, that De Klerk apparently made the controversial comment.
‘No evidence found implicating De Klerk in violence,’ says foundation
John Allen, a close associate of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, allegedly acknowledged in his book Rabble Rouser for Peace that “no evidence was ever forthcoming (at the Truth and Reconciliation Council) implicating De Klerk in violence.”
“This was despite the fact that the TRC clearly had an agenda to incriminate De Klerk. He writes of the TRC’s ‘frustration’ at its failure to ‘pin responsibility for violations of human rights on De Klerk’ and acknowledges ‘the embarrassing weakness of its finding against him,” it further stated.
“As for Boipatong, the TRC’s amnesty committee found in November 2000 that the IFP supporters who perpetrated the Boipatong killings in June 1992 had acted alone,” it added.
De Klerk hits back at Malema
The foundation pointed out the irony that Malema, who launched the “vitriolic attack” on De Klerk, threatened to commit a real crime against humanity when he said “We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people — at least not now” on 7 November 2016.
“In a way, an attack by Julius Malema and the EFF is the sincerest form of compliment. We have seen his kind before: those who wear colour-coded uniforms; who use bully boy tactics to disrupt democratic processes; who whip up race hatred and call their leaders ‘Führer, or Duce, or Commander in Chief’. The words of Irish poet WB Yeats, (whom Malema would no doubt regard as a ‘colonialist’), came to mind while watching the EFF debacle in Parliament,” it added.
The foundation ended its statement by quoting Yeats:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”