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De Klerk was just a footnote in South African history | Ideas

On Thursday, the last leader of apartheid, Frederik Willem de Klerk, passed away, sparking a debate among South Africans about his life and legacy.

De Klerk’s gratitude and support for South Africa’s presidency at the time of his transition from white supremacy to democracy – was not felt in the country, not because of racism, but because of his many weaknesses as head of state.

In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Mr. De Klerk could have gone down in history as the new president of South Africa, but he wasted no time in becoming a young man, devoid of greatness and generosity.”

During his presidency (1989-1994) and his time as vice president of Nelson Mandela (1994-1996), De Klerk had the opportunity to shape the ideals of his white people, raise the voice of Black South Africa, and lead. a role in building a democratic South Africa. Instead, he repeatedly chose to say nothing wrong with lying during his time in politics. Instead of focusing on the past, De Klerk and the white supremacist elites tried to evade it. As a result, De Klerk became the footnote on history.

Although he freed Mandela and other political prisoners and banned the civil rights movement and its institutions in 1990, De Klerk was a staunch opponent. After winning Mandela’s 1994 election, he became vice president in his coalition government. Although he held a high position in the Mandela government, De Klerk could not admit to having participated in the apartheid-era violence of black South Africans.

Instead, they lied to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which was formed in 1996 when the new democratic government came to power. Under the direction of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the commission’s mission was to investigate violations of human rights, including murder, kidnapping and forced flight.

De Klerk could have used his appearance at the TRC to show his commitment to forming a new organization based on the values ​​he was known for when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Nelson Mandela in 1993. Instead, he stressed that “there has never been a government policy. [or] National Party for people to be killed ”.

He went on to criticize the apartheid police who killed civilians and terrorists for killing them without their knowledge or permission, as well as without the knowledge of government officials. He even went so far as to accuse lowly white supremacists of using the TRC to extort money from its elites in the face of discrimination. Then he added, “[I] yes it is our security forces who have succeeded [apartheid] policy and decisions and all its relevant meanings. ”

It was very frustrating, and it cost him dearly among the people who hoped to play a role in changing the white man’s ideology of apartheid and democratic change.

The testimony of the former leader provided an example of the appearance of some great Western leaders. The military closed down the churches, and Western political leaders boycotted the protest and weakened the situation. In the end, the denial of these lies did not prevent the TRC from disclosing another fact. The committee’s final report clearly stated that De Klerk and his military superiors were aware of and had conspired to assassinate and injure anti-apartheid activists.

Although he was in the right place at the right time in 1990, his failure to achieve a transition period based on integrity and integrity meant that he was quickly caught up in the transformation of South Africa and won by his political enemy Nelson Mandela. Just three years after the 1994 democratic elections, De Klerk resigned. He did not return to politics and spent a long period of democracy trying to control how he would be remembered.

The preoccupation with the former leader and how he will be remembered came to light this week. On Thursday, just hours after the death of an agent, the De Klerk Foundation released a video of De Klerk filming shortly before his death.

In the message, which he said would be his “last”, De Klerk also apologized for the racism, and said he did not always want, “admit the wrong of discrimination”, and “took great steps to ensure dialogue. And a new era of justice.” all ”.

The film was seen by many as De Klerk’s last attempt to establish himself as the man who played a key role in the birth of the new world.

As his time approached, he seemed eager to prove that he had played a major role in the issue that still exists in South Africa. Instead, the film confirmed what many were already thinking – that De Klerk was just an uninterested actor alongside South African history.

Nelson Mandela came to this conclusion many years ago. In the Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela gave a shocking account of De Klerk’s political history, writing, “Although his actions appear to be progressive, Mr de Klerk was not a great savior. in the new age. “

In his liberation, Mandela was able to hand over the reign of the first emperor, contemplating De Klerk’s aspirations. In death, as in life, the last president of apartheid was the supernatural, the subtle and the cover-up of the first black man in South Africa.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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