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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.

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I have taken note of the vehement reaction to our response to the EFF’s attack on me at the State of the Nation address on Thursday night.

I agree with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation that this is not the time to quibble about the degrees of unacceptability of apartheid.  It was totally unacceptable.

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. 

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The FW de Klerk Foundation was established in 1999 to promote and protect the Constitution and its values, as well as to commemorate the transition to democracy in the early 90s. Each year, the Foundation hosts its Annual Conference around 2 February to commemorate former President FW de Klerk's historic speech on that day in 1990 - when the transition formally started with announcement that political parties would be unbanned and political prisoners (among which Nelson Mandela was the most prominent) were to be released. This Conference was held in Cape Town this year on Friday, 31 January, 30 years after this momentous speech.

The release of Nelson Mandela from prison 30 years ago was the first momentous consequence of the announcements made by President FW de Klerk in Parliament nine days earlier.  As Mr De Klerk observed in his autobiography: as he watched Nelson Mandela walking through the gates of Victor Verster Prison, he was struck by an inescapable truth: “...an irreversible process had begun and nobody could predict precisely how it would end.”  

Now 30 years later we can answer part of that question:  

  • the constitutional democracy that FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela took the lead in negotiating during the following six years is still intact; 
  • South African has rejoined the international community;
  • it has rid itself of the albatross of minority racial domination;
  • all South Africans enjoy nominal equality;
  • the new multi-racial middle class has flourished.

mbeki goodwill

The  Board of Trustees of the FW de Klerk Foundation awarded the 2020 FW de Klerk Goodwill Award to Mr Moeletsi Mbeki. 

The FW de Klerk Goodwill Award was established in 2010 to give recognition to individuals and organisations that have made extraordinary contributions to the promotion of goodwill between South Africans. Past winners include Pieter-Dirk Uys (2012), Studietrust (2013), Patrice Motsepe (2014), Afrika Tikkun (2015), Adv Thuli Madonsela and the Office of the Public Protector (2016), the coach and athlete team of Mrs Anna (Ans) Botha and Mr Wayde van Niekerk (2017), and Gift of the Givers (2018).

The road to 2 February 1990 can be traced back to the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.  

In 1909 Britain decided to establish a union of its principal colonies in southern Africa along the lines of the successful federations that it had set up in Australia and Canada.  The difference was that in the other dominions the white populations greatly outnumbered the indigenous peoples - while in South Africa they comprised less than 25% of the total population. 

Nevertheless, in keeping with the colonial approach of the times, Britain gave white South Africans a monopoly of power in the newly established Union. It was an arrangement that, in a rapidly changing world, would eventually prove to be untenable.

For the next 40 years South Africa developed along the lines of the other Commonwealth dominions.  Until the mid-fifties, in a continent that was still dominated by European powers, white minority rule in South Africa seemed unexceptional.  In a world in which racial discrimination was still shockingly the rule, South Africa’s segregation policies elicited little criticism. 

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It is a great pleasure for me to address you this afternoon - on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the speech that I delivered to Parliament on 2 February 1990 - which initiated the constitutional transformation of South Africa.  

It was the beginning of the resolution of the core problem that had dogged South Africa since the establishment of the Union in 1910.  That problem arose from the fact that - in keeping with the colonial approach of the times - Britain had vested total power in the new Union in the hands of the minority white nation. 

In a rapidly changing world, this relationship would prove to be increasingly untenable.

The deadline for comments on the draft amendment bill on section 25 of the Constitution (the so-called Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill) is fast approaching. Numerous organisations are busy putting their comments in writing. The majority of these will oppose it, while committing themselves to the urgent need for land reform in terms of the present Constitution.

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In a recent article, I wrote about five trends that will characterise 2020. These five are:

  • Greater centralisation and State control by the ANC government on the actions of South Africans;
  • Better investigations, charges and prosecutions by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks.
  • The gradual but definite erosion of government institutions' ability to govern, manage, maintain and provide basic services;
  • The ongoing infighting within the ANC and its alliance partners (and accompanying attacks on President Ramaphosa); and
  • The stagnant economy (with the possibility of a downgrade lurking).

In the past week, the focus of the media and citizens has specificially been on the infighting in the ANC (no. 4 above), which was influenced and even driven by Eskom's problems (no. 3 above). 

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