Opinion

EFF was correct in demanding De Klerk's removal from SONA

EFF was correct in demanding De Klerk's removal from SONA
The anger directed at FW de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid president and its biggest denialist, at the State of the Nation Address on Thursday night, is more than justified.

De Klerk spat in all our faces when he denied that the apartheid government committed genocide against black people, during a television interview earlier this week.

Instead, he shockingly said more blacks were killed by fellow blacks than those murdered by the National Party government. Black-on-black violence, he called it.

As those words left his mouth, De Klerk lost any remaining respect or good faith some South Africans may have had in him. With those incredibly insensitive, irresponsible, unforgivable utterances, he slapped the hand of reconciliation that black South Africans, led by Nelson Mandela, had extended to him.

His attitude demonstrated De Klerk was not genuine in his apology for apartheid and its gross atrocities. The words he had said on many platforms, locally and internationally, now ring hollow.

He wanted to be hailed as a hero for being the head of state who released Mandela, other political prisoners and unbanned the ANC and other liberation movements. But, the revelation of his true colours this week shows a hero he is not.

Heroes have principles and are consistent. If De Klerk was genuine in his apology, he would not, today, defend the evil system.

The empty words that he uttered, for nothing but political expediency, have come back to haunt him. His lies truly had short legs.

Parliament committed a grave error in inviting De Klerk to the SONA address, and the Economic Freedom Front was correct in demanding his removal.

If an invite had been issued months ago, as I suspect was the case, it should have been withdrawn after the TV interview, where his abhorrent views were aired.

Parliament should have rescinded the invitation to make a bold statement against the apartheid apologist and to affirm the sacrifices that many South Africans made in the struggle against De Klerk and his co-conspirators.

De Klerk presided over a regime that murdered men, women and children to preserve the most evil political system designed to dehumanise people of colour and destroy the human spirit.

De Klerk became Mandela’s deputy and is a free man today because of the compromise reached at the watershed political negotiations that led to a settlement.

Through his denial, he undermined this monumental compromise.

There are many who feel that rather than being a special guest in Parliament, De Klerk should rather be a guest at a correctional service centre run by the International Criminal Court, serving a sentence for crimes against the people of South Africa.

Parliament’s failure to withdraw De Klerk’s invite was a major oversight. The treatment he received in Parliament from the EFF was justified. The response to his hypocrisy was perfect. However, it should not be the only one.

I suspect that De Klerk and members of the National Party wear a big smug on their faces these days when they look at the state of South Africa.

So the only response we should be giving them is a South Africa that is way better than it was under apartheid. South Africa is not in good shape, and there are many reasons for this.

A true introspection, provided by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of the nation speech, bears testimony to this. And the picture does not look good. The economy continues to tank, unemployment is rising unabated, services in most municipalities have collapsed, and the rule of law is slowly but surely being eroded.

This is the sad state of SA that those who paid the ultimate sacrifice could not have anticipated.

The current state would support the excuses forwarded by a succession of apartheid leaders, including Hendrik Verwoerd and BJ Vorster, who said that black people were incapable of doing anything and would, as soon as they got power, run South Africa into the ground.

The slow decay that we’re witnessing spurred on by the wanton fraud and corruption can only prove these racists right. That is why it has to stop and stop right now.

It is true that successive democratic governments have done lots to change the lives of South Africans, particularly the poorest of the poor. It is also factual that the damage caused by apartheid is slowly but surely being addressed.

However, it would also be true to say that the damage being caused by corrupt forces in a free and democratic South Africa will, if left unattended, come, comparatively speaking, very close to the damage caused by apartheid.

That is why the vision and plans tabled by Ramaphosa at the 2020 State of the Nation Address must move quickly into reality. The president’s plan to change the economy, create jobs and directly address problems that face our people on a daily basis is bold and commendable. However, our people cannot survive on good vision and great plans. They need much, much more than that.

And that, Mr President, is your challenge.

And a better run South Africa, with efficient public services, well managed state-owned enterprises and government departments is the only answer we must provide to the hypocrisy from the likes of De Klerk and fellow apartheid denialists and apologists.

* Rantao is Editor at Large, Political Analyst, Media Trainer. He is also the chairperson: The African Editors’ Forum.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.