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)
- 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.