Justice Malala's Unjustified Attack on FW de Klerk
JUSTICE MALALA’S UNJUSTIFIED ATTACK ON FW DE KLERK
Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation
Justice Malala is usually one of our more perceptive and balanced commentators. However, in his article on FW de Klerk in the British newspaper, The Guardian, (26 July) he jettisons any pretence of journalistic balance and professionalism. He ascribes to De Klerk attitudes that he does not hold and statements that he has not made - and then proceeds to attack him for them!
At no stage during the conference organized by his foundation on 25 July did De Klerk come close to saying - as Malala claims - that “the only thing that can save the nation… is continued protection of white minority rights and privileges.” He has never asked for white South Africans any rights that all South Africans do not enjoy in terms of the Constitution. A quick reading of De Klerk’s speeches will show clearly that he is deeply concerned about continuing inequalities - and the other serious problems - confronting our society.
His statement that the Mandela and Mbeki era of reconciliation is over is, sadly, a statement of fact, as is his observation that “white males are quite unjustly blamed for the continuing triple crisis of unemployment, inequality and poverty.”
It is simply untrue that he does not ask South Africans to come together and find solutions to these problems. Such calls are a constant refrain in his communication and were a central element in his speech on 25 July - which Malala evidently has not read. (Readers who wish to establish the facts for themselves can find the text here).
The main point in his speech was that national policy is at the crossroads: one road leads to the radical implementation of the National Democratic Revolution and the other to the vision set out in the government’s own National Development Plan.
He identifies himself with the National Planning Commission (NPC)'s vision and with its diagnosis of the problems confronting South Africa - especially unemployment and poor education.
The analysis of the elements that contribute to the decline of societies is not his but the NPC’s. He concludes, regrettably, that all these elements of decline are present in South Africa and will be exacerbated by proposed ANC policies. They include corruption; a weakening state; poor economic management; skills and capital flight; politics dominated by ethnicity and factionalism and lack of maintenance of infrastructure and service standards. Malala himself has frequently cited the same problems.
De Klerk suggests that the government can best reverse this decline by supporting the kind of vision proposed by the NPC - which, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the maintenance of white privilege.
He welcomes the assurance of Jeff Radebe, the ANC's Policy Chief, that the policy discussion process "is not going to be confined to the ANC and its allies" and that the ANC will "call upon all sectors of South African Society and our people at large to engage with these discussion documents."
This is exactly what De Klerk was doing. He urged South Africans “between now and the ANC conference in December” to “broaden the national debate on the country's future policy direction.” He said that they should engage with the ANC on those aspects of its policy proposals with which they disagreed. “In particular, we must stress the political, economic and social consequences that will inevitably ensue if it proceeds with some of its proposed and existing policies.”
In reply to a question on what concerned South Africans should do, he replied that they should “get onto the playing field and becomes politically active.” What on earth is wrong with that?
At no stage has De Klerk appointed himself “defender of the country’s white males” and nowhere does he express any belief that he is “the leader of a threatened white minority” as Malala claims - once again without adducing any evidence whatsoever.
Why then Malala’s unfounded and irrational attack on De Klerk? Perhaps he shares the view of some black and white intellectuals that white South Africans do not really have the moral and historic standing to participate in debates on national policy - or is it just De Klerk’s presuming to do so that angers him?
In terms of the Constitution, all of us have an equal right to freedom of speech and to participate in political activity. FW de Klerk - as one of the fathers of that Constitution - and his foundation will continue with its work to uphold our Constitution and to protect the rights of all South Africans. It will also continue to support reasonable solutions to the serious problems that confront South Africans - including unemployment, the education crisis, inequality and increasing racism - from whatever quarter.
Published in: FW de Klerk Foundation