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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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There were two eye-catching issues in the media this past week.

South Africa’s largest chicken producer, Astral, announced that its chicken plant in Standerton no longer receives sufficient water from the local Lekwa Municipality (Standerton). This plant is the largest on the continent and slaughters two million chickens weekly. In addition, Astral’s feed mill in Standerton is also the largest on the continent - one that was recently built at significant cost, following written assurances by the Municipality that sufficient water and electricity would be available. The reason for the lack of water supply to the largest employer in town? Ongoing poor maintenance of water infrastructure - pumps and pipe ducts - needed to pump water from the Vaal River 8 km away.

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The Gauteng MEC for Education, Andrek Panyaza Lesufi, is an interesting man. A large part of the mainly black population think the world of him. He is a MEC who is “hands-on”, and is seen and heard wherever there is trouble in the Gauteng school system. He is regularly in the media and holds a press conference once a week - usually on a Sunday afternoon at his home. He was even mentioned as a possible successor to the current Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga. Another part of mostly the white (and Afrikaans) population is of the opinion that he is waging war on Afrikaans as a language of instruction in schools - and in addition to that, harbours anti-white sentiments.

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The FW de Klerk Foundation has often expressed the view that the choice confronting the ANC - and accordingly South Africa - is between the racial ideology of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) on the one hand, and the much more pragmatic approach of the National Development Plan (NDP), on the other.  For us the most significant elements in President Ramaphosa’s SONA speech last night were:

  • a strong reaffirmation of the NDP and a new determination to place it “at the centre of our national effort, to make it alive, to make it part of the lived experience of the South African people”;
  • an unambiguous reaffirmation of South African Reserve Banks’ constitutional role to protect the value of the rand in the interest of balanced and sustainable growth; and
  • a brief reference to the core question of land reform with a renewed commitment to “accelerated land reform in rural and urban areas” and significantly “a clear property rights regime” - as well as an announcement that the Cabinet would soon consider the report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.

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President Walesa, Ms Tibaijuka, Minister Mohammed Al Mutawa, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

I welcome this opportunity to share my views on the importance of peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance with this distinguished audience.  I would also like to commend the Oslo Centre and the Foundation for Dialogue and Peace for the role that they have played in organising this event.

It is appropriate for us to consider questions related to peace in Oslo, the home of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Despite continuing conflicts in several parts of the world there is good reason to believe that mankind’s age-old search for peace is at last beginning to achieve some success.  Indeed, according to Steven Pinker “we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence”.

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One can almost feel the despair of the South African population. Among the reasons for this are an unprecedented increase in the spate of farm attacks and murders, Ace Magashule and Co. meddling with the Reserve Bank and trouble with infrastructure and dysfunctional municipalities in almost every town. And then having the Proteas messing about at the World Cup is no help either! Many South Africans are asking, “What is Cyril doing about this? He is the President now!”

And that’s partly true - our President is in a better place than a year ago as far as party politics are concerned. He followed up his victory at Nasrec (53%)  with a 57.5% victory at the polls in May. He is no longer an “interim” President, but one that has led his party to a victory (and probably single-handedly rescued them from a defeat). He reduced the Cabinet and got all rid of all the biggest Zupta crooks. He promised (almost like Madiba of old) to be a President for all the people of South Africa and not just for the ANC. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t mean he is untouchable and can do what he wants. There are a few stumbling blocks on his path. And to understand what’s happening now, one needs to know what these stumbling blocks are.

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Honoured Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this celebration of the 20thanniversary of the FW de Klerk Foundation in conjunction with the 25thanniversary of the New South Africa.  I should like to share a few ideas about the process that led to the establishment of our constitutional democracy - and then to say a few words about the work of the Foundation.

Every morning since I became politically-conscious I have woken up and worried about the future of the country.  It is this that distinguishes South Africans from those other peoples in the world who have never had to worry about existential threats - who view politics in terms of economic and social policy, of regular elections and occasional scandals - rather than survival. 

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President and Mrs Elita de Klerk.

Lord Renwick.

Representatives of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have just held a 6th election, without allegations of serious irregularities, which has given rise to a widespread analysis that, even though our economy is in a parlous state, our democracy (at least) is stable.

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Mr De Klerk, Elita, former Premier, Mr Friedrich, ladies and gentlemen,

I am really honoured to have been asked to speak on this occasion, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the FW de Klerk Foundation and the 25th anniversary of true democracy in South Africa. Apart from its founder, I would like to pay tribute to the contribution David Steward and Dr Theuns Eloff have made to the Foundation and the leading role it has played in defence of the Constitution.  

As for the contribution FW de Klerk has made to the history of this country, we all remember the extraordinary scenes here in South Africa as, for the first time in their lives, millions of people who hitherto had been disenfranchised, for the first time in this country’s history were able to go to the polls and cast their vote for the government of their choice. None of which would have been possible without the extraordinarily courageous decisions taken by FW de Klerk as President of South Africa.

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