FW’s ‘truth’ a sickening read


I’ve been up from early and raring to go, diary filed and the week squared away by 8am. I’ve been buoyed by a late swim in the ocean the previous evening, which, on top of the rare 4-0 win by the Arsenal, was a pretty magnificent way to end off the weekend.

My plan for the week is pretty cool. A deep look at former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede’s bid to become ANC eThekwini chairperson (again); a look at the pressure that’s building on the residents of Ingonyama Trust land who have taken the body to court and a day or so getting up to speed on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan for commercial cannabis cultivation.

I’d been talking to a couple of practitioners in the cannabis industry over the weekend about the head of state’s announcement, made when he finally got to deliver his State of the Nation address last Thursday and was keen to get out into the fields, as it were, to visit them.

The cell phone goes.

It’s the lahnee. The office has plans for me and my plans. Mama, as Gumede is known to the faithful, will have to wait. So will the cannabis cultivators and maybe even the Ingonyama Trust.

The latest bout of apartheid denialism by the National Party regime’s last president, FW de Klerk, following the call by the Economic Freedom Fighters that he be booted out of Parliament over his apartheid denialism has landed up in my lap.

Fair enough.

Time to clear my diary and get stuck in.

I lived during De Klerk’s term as apartheid’s last president, so his latest utterances are no real surprise. The myth of De Klerk unbanning the ANC and other organisations out of a sense of altruism, or out of some conversion to non-racialism, is just that, a myth. De Klerk unbanned the ANC because he had to. Circumstances forced him to. By 1990 De Klerk’s regime was financially bankrupt and internationally isolated. It could no longer govern the country; its capacity to suppress resistance to apartheid was dwindling in the face of wave after wave of mass action.

I hit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) archive. I figure there’s no better place to find a tabulation of the human rights abuses committed under De Klerk’s watch. I’m also keen to read De Klerk’s submissions to the TRC on behalf of the National Party and the regime. De Klerk made two and attended a hearing to respond to follow on questions before storming out, alleging that the commissioners were biased against him. De Klerk also went to court to stop the commission from publishing a finding that he lied when he said he knew nothing about the bombing of Khotso House in 1988.

I start with De Klerk’s submissions. They’re heavy going, lengthy, legalistic exercises in justifying the unjustifiable and avoiding responsibility. They also provide immediate answers as to why De Klerk continues to defend apartheid, 25 years after losing power, despite having been treated with kid gloves under the new order.

I suggest reading them. They’re a great indicator as to who — and what — De Klerk is.

Both submissions follow a similar theme. They create a “rational’’ framework and reasoning for the existence and maintenance of a state based on institutionalised white supremacy and legalised racism. Both present the torture, murders, rapes, beatings and kidnappings carried out by the police, army, covert units and surrogate forces as a logical, honourable response to excesses by the liberation movement. Both also distance De Klerk and his fellow leaders from any illegal operations, blaming the deaths on rogue operations by low-level functionaries with no official mandate.

The responses to questions are more of the same.

I take a break. This shit is sickening. There’s no sense of remorse over apartheid and its excesses. There’s no real apology, no sense of acceptance of responsibility for the destruction of thousands of lives.

I hit the TRC findings on De Klerk.

They’re actually pretty kind. De Klerk already knew about the Khotso House bombing when he denied knowledge at about it in his 1996 testimony. There was also little likelihood that De Klerk and other Cabinet members who sat on the State Security Council, which authorised assassinations and other illegal operations against anti-apartheid activists, did not know their instructions to “terminate” and “remove” people would end up in them being killed.

The cell phone goes.

It’s the De Klerk Foundation.

They’ve issued a statement withdrawing De Klerk’s latest defence of apartheid. De Klerk “apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused”, and then goes on a trip about how kind he was to dismantle apartheid.

I close the laptop.

Fuck this guy.

De Klerk never changed, never understood that apartheid was wrong, never saw the light.

He just lost power.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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