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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

20th Anniversary of de Klerk’s historic speech


Today marks the 20th anniversary of a historic speech made on 2 February 1990 in the South African parliament, by former State President FW de Klerk. It was a speech that stunned the world and drastically changed the political and economic scene in South Africa.


De Klerk’s far-reaching announcements led to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison nine days later, on 11 February 1990. His speech also led to the unbanning of the following organizations, with immediate effect:

  • African National Congress (ANC)
  • Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)
  • South African Communist Party (SACP)
  • National Education Crisis Committee
  • South African National Students Congress
  • United Democratic Front (UDF)
  • Cosatu
  • Die Blanke Bevrydingsbeweging van Suid-Afrika

De Klerk made it quite clear in his speech that his reasoning was influenced by another major world event, and that was the fall of the Berlin Wall a few months earlier. He mentioned that, “The year of 1989 will go down in history as the year in which Stalinist Communism expired.” He further stated that, “The new situation in Eastern Europe also shows that foreign intervention is no recipe for domestic change. It never succeeds, regardless of its ideological motivation. The upheaval in Eastern Europe took place without the involvement of the Big Powers or of the United Nations.”

He was thus implying that if drastic changes did not happen soon in South Africa, another big wall was going to come crashing down, --- pushed not by foreign UN forces, but by forces working from within the borders of the country. At the same time he was trying to suppress the role his partners in the United Nations had played in the systematic breakdown of a perfectly workable system.

Threats and Intimidation

De Klerk’s entire speech, which can be read online here, displays a sense of urgency, and cunning insinuations of eminent danger if his proposals were not accepted. It was a speech he was able to make with ease and confidence because the overwhelming majority in parliament already supported his views. It was his gullible audience, the confused public of South Africa, that needed some persuasion, and also a good dose of shock treatment. Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu couldn’t believe what he was hearing. In his own words, which were broadcast live on radio today, he said, “I had to pinch myself. I thought I was dreaming. Unbanning the ANC is something I had expected, but unbanning the Pan Africanist Congress and also the South African Communist Party, really surprised me.”

De Klerk’s attempts to subtly bully his opponents and scare his audience are reflected in the choice of words he used that day: “The alternative is growing violence, tension and conflict.... No-one can escape this simple truth…. The season of violence is over. The time for reconstruction and reconciliation has arrived.”

A mountain of socio-economic problems

Today 20 years later, we all know that the season of violence never departed from our land. The exact opposite happened! Crime, violence, and numerous social problems escalated to new heights. The faster we seem to reconstruct, reform, and renovate, --- the faster everything seems to collapse and degenerate. Today, the ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe openly declared on National Television, on the seven o’clock evening news, that South Africa has a mountain of socio-economic problems to solve. (I got the impression that his little interview was cut short.)

Blaming Apartheid for all the problems we face today has become an outdated monotonous defence, but the government in collaboration with the liberal-minded media, have successfully propagated the myth that a handful of whites oppressed the majority, and thus caused the social evils we face today. We should thus be thankful that the old evil system is dead and buried, because things would gave been far worse if we allowed it to progress.

How do you define progress, Mr de Klerk?

In July 1998, Nelson Mandela released about 9000 robbers, murders, and rapists, back into society, resulting in a drastic increase in serious crimes across the country. This was followed by the crazy decision to shutdown several specialised crime units in the SA Police Service. When the South African Narcotics Bureau (SANAB) was disbanded in 2003, drug related crime shot up 87 percent. Goodness knows what happened after the Child Protection Unit was disbanded, but it is quite obvious from this report, which tells a horrific story about children trapped in prostitution, that our government does not care a damn about the welfare of our kids.

Dear Mr de Klerk, --- maybe I’m being over pessimistic here, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot see the progress this country has made while under ANC rule. I see corrupt and dumb politicians wasting taxpayers money on a scale that boggles the mind. I see the cost of living rising by the day. I see people living in fear behind locked gates. I see more and more people, from all races, waiting for handouts on our street corners. I see illegal drugs flooding our streets and killing our children. I see Nigerian and Tanzanian druglords fighting for the occupation of dilapidated buildings. I try my best not to see these things because it upsets me, but everywhere I go I see the stark reminders of a country on the brink of chaos!

And I’m not done yet…

I also see a nation coming to its knees as its people are forced to worship other gods, above our Almighty Lord. I see a country high-jacked by FIFA and all the pretty sports stadiums and newly tarred roads, fancy hotels, --- all built to amaze and please the soccer fans, who will come here to worship their gods for a short while, -- and then leave. I honestly cannot see what benefit this will bring to our country and its people, not in the short-term or the long-term.

Maybe I’m just a blind old fool who cannot accept change.

4 comments :

Anonymous said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

De Klerk did the right thing at the right time.

He was not elected by the majority during the first nationwide election. How can you hold him accountable for the shit that the country is in now? All he did was help make the transition to an ANC government a bloodless one.

The alternative was a major bloodbath and everyone knew it.

Do you honestly think SA would have been in a better position if an apartheid government still ruled? With the focus away from the East block, pressure on SA would have been worse than that of Iraq.

Laager said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

There have been some benefits so far out of this top end world cup expenditure. Factories were kept busy producing the building materials for the stadiums and jobs were created.

A cost benefit analysis may reveal that that money could have been better spent on education to secure lang term benefits.

It is all water under the bridge now.

The real issue is - who is going to pay for the stadiums?
Are they going to be managed as money makers and job creators?
Time will tell

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Dear Anonymous,

There are many complex factors to take into account, but in the end I agree, to a certain extent with the comments you made in your first paragraph. De Klerk was purely the messenger, a servant of the United Nations. He did his job well, hence the reason why he was awarded a Noble Peace Prize.

It is mere speculation to state that a major bloodbath was avoided. We will never know that for sure. However, there is no doubt that the ‘possibility’ of looming disaster was used by de Klerk (and the media) as a scare tactic to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Eventually, the ball was passed to an inexperienced player, way too soon!

The answer to your last question is a resounding YES!
I’m not saying that we must go back to the petty apartheid of the 1960s – that would be madness! What I’m saying, is that we should take a hard look at the policy of separate development as it presented itself in the 1980’s when about 50 percent of South Africa’s arable land was reserved for the separate development of the country’s various cultural groups. ALL the diverse native populations back then enjoyed advancements which were unknown in other parts of Africa. Today these minority groups are disappearing fast from the political scene, and the ANC government is doing nothing to rectify this!

Hope to see you back here!
I enjoy debating these issues, and welcome the views of others.

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Hi Laager,

The residential building industry basically came to a standstill while upgrades were done to our highways and while sport stadiums were being erected. The whole soccer business therefore didn’t really generate more jobs for South Africa’s people at all!

While the country was focusing primarily on meeting FIFA demands, roads and other infrastructures in and around our suburbs and rural areas have fallen into a disgraceful state of disrepair. I shudder to think what this is going to cost to fix!

It is too early to say whether or not the 2010 FIFA World Cup will hold any real future benefits for the country. There are too many variables at play and too many unanswered questions. A successful World Cup all depends on how we cope with the extra demand for services, the increased crime, or a major terrorist attack!

This event will make or break our image in the eyes of the world, so for this reason I sincerely hope that it will be a major success! Because if it is not, then we’re in for a very bumpy ride ahead!

Who is going to pay for the stadiums?
The gullible taxpayers and fans who are addicted to the gods of sport. And this is the reason why I cannot see any benefits for the average SA citizen like me. In the end, we are paying for ‘arenas-of-worship’ we really don’t need! Playing sport is not going to solve the socio-economic problems in this country, it only diverts our attention from the real issues.

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