Hagen Engler
3 minute read
13 Nov 2021
6:00 am

De Klerk didn’t embrace democracy. He surrendered to its inevitability

Hagen Engler

FW de Klerk could have played a far greater role in reconciliation, but chose not to, and SA remains a divided nation because of it.

FW de Klerk and Thandi Modise. Picture: twitter/The instigator @Andries31082447 Image for illustrative purposes.

As people on Twitter fell over themselves to celebrate the death of FW de Klerk, our last apartheid president, I chose the high road of keeping the man’s name out of my mouth and leaving it to those directly harmed by him to accurately express their pain and schadenfreude. What did strike me, briefly, was that whatever De Klerk was – enabler of murderers, nexus of crimes against humanity, strategist, opportunist, Nobel Peace Prize winner… he was not an inspirational leader. His decision to release political prisoners, unban liberation organisations and begin negotiations for a democratic transition did usher in...