Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

De Klerk pays tribute to Mandela’s ‘unique contribution’

Former president FW De Klerk said South Africa lost one of its founding fathers and "greatest sons". He said Nelson Mandela made a "unique contribution" to constitutional democracy and nation-building.

"It was with the greatest sadness that I have learned of the death of Nelson Mandela. My wife, Elita, and I would like to convey our deepest condolences to his wife Graça Machel, the Mandela family and their friends, to the ANC and indeed to the entire South African nation," said De Klerk.

De Klerk and Mandela first met on December 13 1989, shortly before De Klerk became president, he said.

"We did not discuss any substantive issues and spent most of the time sizing one another up. We both reached the conclusion that we would be able to do business with one another."

At their next meeting in February of 1990, the two discussed Mandela's imminent release from prison. Mandela was released two days later, on February 11.

"He was initially taken aback and insisted that the release would have to be delayed to give the ANC time to make the necessary arrangements. I said that would not be possible but, in a spirit of compromise, agreed that he would be able to choose the place of his release.  He chose Cape Town.

"In the years that followed, it was an honour for me to have been able to work with Mr Mandela in the process that led to the adoption of the interim constitution and our first democratic elections in April 1994. Although we were political opponents – and although our relationship was often stormy – we were always able to come together at critical moments to resolve the many crises that arose during the negotiation process," said De Klerk.

'Great moral authority'
One such moment, he said, was the assassination of Chris Hani on April 10 1993, when Nelson Mandela "was able to use his great moral authority to call for calm and to ensure that the negotiations were not derailed".

In his concession speech, after the ANC's victory in our first nonracial election on April 27 1994, De Klerk congratulated Mandela on the role that he had played during the negotiations:

"Mandela will soon assume the highest office in the land with all the awesome responsibility which it bears. He will have to exercise this great responsibility in a balanced manner which will assure South Africans from all our communities that he has all their interests at heart. I am confident that this will be his intention," De Klerk said at the time.

"Mandela has walked a long road, and now stands at the top of the hill. A traveller would sit and admire the view. But the man of destiny knows that beyond this hill lies another and another. The journey is never complete. As he contemplates the next hill, I hold out my hand to Mr Mandela – in friendship and in co-operation.

"During his presidency, Mr Mandela did indeed use his great responsibility to assure South Africans from all our communities that he had all their interests at heart. He made a unique contribution not only to the establishment of our constitutional democracy but also to the cause of national reconciliation and nation-building.

"Nelson Mandela's courage, charm and commitment to reconciliation and to the Constitution, were an inspiration not only for South Africans but for the whole world. I believe that his example will live on and that it will continue to inspire all South Africans to achieve his vision of non-racialism, justice, human dignity and equality for all.

"Tata, we shall miss you – but know that your spirit and example will always be there to guide us to the vision of a better and more just South Africa."

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Mabuza’s Russian jaunts and the slippery consequences of medical tourism

For more than five years the deputy president has remained steadfast in his right to travel abroad to receive medical treatment

More top stories

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell dies aged 84

The 84-year-old died as a result of complications from Covid-19

Kunming Declaration on biodiversity: A show of political will that...

More than 100 countries pledged to better protect nature at UN biodiversity talks last week

Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine turned down over HIV concerns

The vaccine might increase the risk of vaccinated males getting HIV, says SA’s health products regulatory authority

New electronic waste management regulations will take effect in November

Producers and importers of electronic goods will be legally responsible for end-of-life management of their products from 5 November
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×