F.W. de Klerk’s Great Betrayal

F.W. de Klerk

F.W. de Klerk’s Great Betrayal

by Ilana Mercer, sometime citizen of South Africa

On February 2, 1990, 30 years ago, F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, turned the screws on his constituents, betraying the confidence we had placed in him. I say “we,” because, prior to becoming president in 1989, Mr. de Klerk was my representative, in the greater Vereeniging region of Southern Transvaal, where I resided. (Our family subsequently moved to Cape Town.)

A constellation of circumstances had aligned to catapult de Klerk to a position of great power. In 1989, a severe stroke forced the “The Crocodile,” President P.W. Botha, from power. Nothing in the background of his successor, President F.W. de Klerk, indicated the revolutionary policies he would pursue.

In a 1992 referendum asking white voters if they favored de Klerk’s proposed reforms, we returned a resounding “yes.” Sixty-eight percent of respondents said “yes” to the proposed reforms of a man who sold his constituents out for a chance to frolic on the world stage with Nelson Mandela. For surrendering South Africa to the ANC, de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela.

Why was de Klerk trusted to negotiate on behalf of a vulnerable racial minority? For good reason: De Klerk had made his views abundantly clear to constituents. “Negotiations would only be about power-sharing,” he promised. At the time, referendum respondents generally trusted de Klerk, who had specifically condemned crude majority rule. Such elections, in Africa, have traditionally amounted to one man, one vote, one time. Typically, elections across Africa have followed a familiar pattern: radical black nationalist movements take power everywhere, then elections cease. Or, if they take place, they’re rigged.

Among much else, de Klerk’s loyal constituents agreed to his scrapping of the ban on the communistic African National Congress. Freeing Nelson Mandela from incarceration was also viewed as long overdue as was acceding to Namibia’s independence, and junking nuclear weapons. Botha, before de Klerk, had, by and large, already dismantled the most egregious aspects of apartheid.

What de Klerk’s constituents were not prepared for was to be legislated into a permanent position of political subordination. President de Klerk, the man entrusted to stand up for crucial structural liberties, went along with the Great Centralizers. He caved to ANC demands, forgoing all checks and balances for South Africa’s Boer, British and Zulu minorities. By the time the average “yes” voter discerned the fact that de Klerk had no intention of maintaining this opposition when push came to shove, it was too late.

Thus, with de Klerk’s collaboration, and under the wing of the American eagle—in particular, U.S. negotiators like Herman Cohen, under-secretary of state for Africa—the Afrikaner, Anglo and Zulu minorities were ordered to forgo minority veto power, meaningful power-sharing and checks on power in the form of a second chamber. Substantive devolution of authority to the regions of South Africa was also denied.

Yet for some reason, a new generation of South Africans, Afrikaner and English, reveres F.W. de Klerk, even characterising the former South African president as a reformer, who led “the country out of the political dead-end [in which] it found itself.” “Today,” declares de Klerk adulator Pieter du Toit, “South Africa is a democracy, with rights-based guarantees.” The writer, editor of a large internet news site, is perfectly serious when he touts South Africa as a country that affords its citizens “rights-based guarantees.” For this reason alone, du Toit should not be taken seriously.

Universal suffrage is not to be conflated with freedom. As Iraqis learned after their “liberation,” ink-stained fingers don’t inoculate against blood stains, or, rather, rivers of blood. As the ‘democratic’ South Africa amply demonstrates, political rights and a paper constitution don’t secure the natural rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

A civilized society, ultimately, is one in which the individual can go about the business of life unmolested. If he can’t do that simple thing, of what value is the vote or a constitution? Extant societal structures that safeguard life and property can always be improved upon. But once these bulwarks against mob rule and mayhem disintegrate, as they have in South Africa, they’re seldom restored.

Far and away the most perplexing paragraph in du Toit’s ode to de Klerk is his historical justification  for de Klerk’s giving the shop to the ANC:

“When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989,” writes du Toit, “along with a series of governments in the Eastern Bloc, [de Klerk] knew it was a matter of time before the Soviet Union fell, and with that the ANC’s biggest support base. De Klerk recognized the moment to move forward.”

Let me see if I grasp the logic of a surrender without defeat: the ANC’s biggest backer, the USSR, was on the verge of collapse. Therefore, goes the author’s logic, the time was ripe to surrender South Africa to the Soviet Union’s satellite, the ANC? This is worse than a non sequitur. It’s nonsense.

At the time that de Klerk, pushed by American negotiators, gave away the store, the ANC heroes were a ragtag bunch of exiled has-been communists, scattered all over Africa and Europe; monosyllabic, apathetic, oft-inebriated men, whose main admirers were their Swedish groupies.

By contrast, someone who did have real power was Constand Viljoen, a military hero and former chief of the South African Defense Force. Gen. Viljoen represented the hardliner Afrikaners and the security forces. Viljoen believed, correctly, that de Klerk had shirked his responsibilities to the electorate. He planned on leading a coalition that would have deposed the freelancing de Klerk and negotiated for an Afrikaner ethnic state.

Ditto Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, chief minister of the KwaZulu homeland and leader of the Zulu people and their Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). His championship of self-determination had been denied. Buthelezi was fed up to the back teeth with being sidelined. He and his Zulu impis (warriors) were every bit as fractious as Viljoen; every bit as willing to fight for their rightful corner of the African Eden.

For setting his sights on decentralized sovereignty in Zululand, the Zulu royal and his following (close on 20% of the South African population) were condemned as reactionaries by the West, whose interests de Klerk was, by now, championing.

Alas, the African gentleman (Buthelezi) and the Afrikaner general (Viljoen) were no match for conniving communists (ANC) and a knavish collaborator: F.W. de Klerk.

Citations are in “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa” (2011) by ilana mercer

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3 Responses to F.W. de Klerk’s Great Betrayal

  1. David Ashton says:

    The case for a generous partition of southern Africa was strong in the 195os and could have worked with western support. Instead of sanctions, constructive aid. It came to an end with the murder of Dr Verwoerd who had plans that went further than the Tomlinson Commission. The movement for “black rights” spread from the USA to its less historically appropriate location in South Africa in de facto alliance with Soviet revolutionary ideology and activity. In the end, demographic developments brought an end to a multiple nationhood settlement, just as it is now contributing to the collapse of South Africa to general detriment.

  2. Frank Dolby says:

    I am a member of a University of the Third Age German conversation group, being a graduate in the language. This week our topic was about German recruitment agencies going to Namibia to find nurses as more and more young Germans shy away from the “care industry” and Germany, like most countries in Europe, has an aging population. It was revealed that Namibia still has 33,000 German speakers. It was administered by South Africa until the 1990s. However, apparently, South Africans are now opting to move there because South Africa is becoming too dangerous. One of our group of overwhelmingly politically correct ex-teachers, added that she and her husband knew a South African couple who have kept a house there but opted to live here because South Africa is no longer safe. And we all know about the plight of the remaining white farmers there. Should the white population of South Africa leave en masse then the question is where they will go to? Russia is now giving fleeing white farmers land and encouraging them to farm there. I could be wrong but I sense that the left-leaning EU would refuse to let those of Dutch, Flemish or French descent return to Europe. And what if those of British descent wanted to return here? I wonder what the reaction would be? Already there is the possibility of large numbers of British who have retired to the Continent returning. Will Europe let its own return when it is busy accommodating millions of non-Europeans? I have insufficient knowledge to predict what will happen to South Africa if there is a mass evacuation. The assumption is that it would no longer prosper. But that viewpoint may be prejudiced.

  3. David Ashton says:

    We have quite a few dentists and doctors from SA already in Britain. Dentists there now sometimes face a practical extraction problem which cannot be mentioned in public here.
    The Chinese are replacing Europeans in a continent of 11m sq.m. once described as our kitchen-garden.
    The reversal of migration from Europe to Africa is an historic tragedy. Even after WW2 democrats like Denis de Rougemont and Lewis Way were talking of Europe-Africa development. Just mentioning racial IQ disparity is virtually taboo, if not yet a crime; cf. the Cummings fiasco. UCL has denounced such racism and plans to rename its Galton & Pearson lecture hall (Times, 29 February 2020, p.10) – more DWEMs into the Memory Hole, while the proles are mesmerised by TV piffle and porn (“1984”, ch.4). Glimpse of the (near) future? – watch Malorie Blackman’s juvenile fiction soon on screen. Google or Bing search “White South African Genocide Statistics” & you will find them denounced as a racist myth, or unable get them on screen.

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