Monday, 13 December 2021
Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa says while former Deputy President FW de Klerk was afforded a State Memorial Service, his legacy remains “contested”.
President Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy during the service held in Cape Town on Sunday.
“In remembering FW de Klerk… we recognise that his contribution and his legacy remain contested. We can neither ignore, nor must we ever seek to dismiss, the anger, the pain and the disappointment of those who recall the place FW de Klerk occupied in the hierarchy of an oppressive State,” he said.
De Klerk passed away in November at the age of 85 following a battle with cancer.
The President acknowledged that although De Klerk was “the last Apartheid president of South Africa”, he played a role in ushering in the new democratic dispensation – starting with the announcement of former President Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
“In taking this bold step, De Klerk heeded the call by Nelson Mandela who, while still incarcerated, told the apartheid rulers that the only way to resolve what he called the perpetual crisis in the country was through negotiations between the ANC and the National Party government.
“De Klerk went against elements in his own state security apparatus, and against diehards who were prepared to take up arms to preserve the status quo. We cannot say with conviction what course our country would have taken had that speech not been made,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa said while acknowledging De Klerk’s contribution to building a non-racial country, South Africa’s painful history under the apartheid government, in which De Klerk served, will not be forgotten.
“We must never forget the injustices of the past. We must never forget the atrocities at Boipatong, Bisho, KwaMakhutha, Langa, Soweto and Sharpeville. We can never forget the lives that were lost, the families that were torn apart, the land that was taken, the livelihoods that were destroyed, the rights that were denied, and the dreams that were dashed.
“We can never forget the humiliation, the degradation and the inhumanity. Nor must we ever forget the responsibility that we each bear to consign such suffering and injustice to the past,” he said.
The President emphasised that although much has been done in the fight against racism, its ending is not yet in sight.
“We are still to reach the end of our journey towards a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and free South Africa. It should not and cannot be that the task of bringing about reconciliation rests squarely on the shoulders of those who were oppressed. It is the responsibility and the duty of us all, black and white.
“Ending the racism that is still prevalent in our society, doing away with discrimination in all its forms and building a united nation takes hard work and it takes acts of courage.”