Let FW de Klerk Rest and Be Mourned By the People He Led!

By Sthembiso Shandu

[DISCLAIMER]: The views expressed here by an Activator are not the views of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers.

FW de Klerk, a man who was formerly a supporter of segregation practices and participated in the killings and humiliation of our people, but who later experienced a change of heart accompanied by bravery, has died.

There’s nothing revolutionary about calling de Klerk a murderer or black people’s number one enemy and blogging about how much we despise him, as I’ve seen a lot of black people do on social media. This man was a leader in his own right, having gained numerous concessions at the negotiating table, including the constitutionalization of white privileges and the provision of substantial social security to his white people. 

Our leaders, on the other hand, hastened to become Ministers and signed a sunset clause that has kept the inequities in place to this day. Our constitution clearly guarantees the right to property, including (stolen) land, in section 25(1) of the Bill of Rights, thanks to him. Sections 25(2) and (3) describe how property can be governed and expropriated, with limited compensation for persons who lost land due to racial discrimination after 1913.

What about our leaders? He delivered to his constituency. He made certain that we had political liberties rather than economic liberties. He ensured that the judiciary remained in their hands, and that whites remained in charge of all critical departments in the country to pacify the commercial sector, which was mostly owned by his race.

 Before we try to sound revolutionary and sling insults, we must admit that the man did a good job representing his people, and it is because of him that white people in this country are safe and prosperous. Constituency leaders represent the interests of their constituents. What should be asked is what did those who were meant to represent the black community gain at the negotiating table in 1993. We have nothing to show for it, and our leaders never had our best interests at heart. 

This hullabaloo over FW de Klerk is superfluous; here lies a leader of his people (whites), and we must allow them to honor him in their own way. Isn’t it what your leaders agreed to—unity and harmony?

At the very least, he is a man who has always been forthright about his political beliefs. He was a staunch conservative and economic liberalist who supported the free market system. What about our black leaders who have no idea what they stand for, preach socialism one minute and then do the exact opposite the next? They speak passionately about the underprivileged while stealing from them and have no remorse.

This man is a leader of his own people, in addition to his role in the atrocities against black people before repenting.  Can we, as young people, let the man lie in peace without indulging in unnecessary drama? The very least we can do is concentrate on the difficulties confronting our country and let the past fade away. 

It would be nice if the state gave him a state funeral – he has been collecting Presidential retirement benefits since then, so it wouldn’t be anything new. No one questioned why the state paid to boost the height of a perimeter wall around de Klerk’s house in Fresnaye, Cape Town, in 2012.  You were all enthralled with Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla. When de Klerk retired, the government paid for a security guard’s hut on the pavement of his Pretoria home. And now you want us to worry about the state funeral or not.

As Africans we respect the dead, we revere the deceased as totems reminding us to renew ourselves in the time we have left; to align ourselves with values that are meaningful to us; and to value the living and this strange, strange thing we call life. 

The death of FW de Klerk should serve as a wake-up call for us to consider how our leaders have abandoned us, and perhaps reconsider the path forward rather than hurling insults at a man who can no longer hear a word, nor does he care what we think of him. He is no longer alive.

May the man who was devoted to his people and constituency rest in peace, and may his family and those for whom he was a hero be allowed to mourn in peace without the interference of bright blacks trying to be relevant.



Sthembiso Shandu, 2017 KZN Activator, is a social youth activist and the leader of the Unemployed Graduate Movement in South Africa, which is a permanent representative movement for unemployed graduates. He is also a former Tshwane University of Technology, Soshanguve SRC Deputy President, and writes in his own capacity. 

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