Mhambi has been redeployed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

De Klerk should speak the truth and take responsibility

Today the UK Guardian covered - in a full page article - the possible threat of prosecution of FW De Klerk for Apartheid era crimes.

The cases in question revolved around a 1993 raid by army Commandos on what is claimed was thought to be a Pan Africanist Congress(PAC) safe house used to plan terrorist attacks. The dead in the raid were 5 teenagers. Allegedly, shot in their beds.

De Klerk has gone on record stating that he seeked assurances that the targets where indeed justified, and were horrified at the botched execution.

Potentially legally more damning is the case of the poisoning of Frank Chikane. Former Law and Order minister Adriaan Vlok is being prosecuted in this matter, and according to a Sunday newspaper, Vlok is plea bargaining with the prosecution and implicating De Klerk.

Mhambi studied law. And although I have little information on this case I would be surprised if Vlok had anything more than his word with which to implicate FW even if he wanted to. But this is not just a matter of law.

De Klerk was a member of the state security council from the mid 80's. And there is proof that he attended meetings where members of the council discussed "shortening the list of politically sensitive individuals by means other than detention". He refused to answer a question about that meeting at the TRC hearings. Today he declines to interpret what the phrasing might have meant but denies ever endorsing a decision to assassinate activists.

The Guardian names another example of potential De Klerk SSC complicity:

Secret minutes of another state security council meeting attended by Mr de Klerk show he supported a decision to "remove" Matthew Goniwe, a black teacher in the Eastern Cape described by security forces as "at the forefront of a revolutionary attack against the state".

Two days after the meeting, a security policemen visited Cradock, where Mr Goniwe lived, to size up how best to kill him.

De Klerk claims today that although he was a member of the state security council it was not briefed "on clandestine operations involving murders, assassinations or the like - all of which were evidently carried out strictly on a 'need to know' basis".

This is not surprising. It would be too easy to get caught.

And legally this may enough. But it is another indicator sign-posting the pathetic leadership path travelled by De Klerk.

German Chancellor Willy Brandt kneeling before the Poles.

After making his paradigm shifting move in 1990, unbanning the ANC and releasing Mandela, and instigating investigations into state death squads, extra responsibilities rested on his shoulders. But he failed this promise and us. De Klerk made serious moral blunders, while conviction and courage to see it through suddenly escaped him.

His failure to go back to his white electorate after promising at the 1992 referendum that he will, was the smallest of these blips. His sulky vanishing from public life in 1996 after he was humiliatingly out-negotiated at the peace negotiations left his constituency in the lurch when he could have helped to solidify the transition and reconciliation.

And when he was called upon to do what no other Afrikaner could legitimately do, he failed Afrikaners completely. De Klerk maintained at the TRC that although he attended these meetings of the State Security council that he knew nothing, he explained nothing and he was not prepared to offer a wider apology.

Antjie Krog was there at the TRC and explains her utter dejectedness well in Country of my Skull. When Afrikaners needed a leader to admit and say sorry for all the hurt they caused De Klerk stormed out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing. Where was our Willy Brandt when we needed him?

De Klerk must have known something was going on and that it was extra legal. Why then the reluctance to admit it? Why not point out that the state thought it necessary to fight fire with fire? There was a violent revolution going on aimed at overthowing the state. That this revolution was in many ways justified is a seperate matter in which lies the rub: it was the systematic discrimination of apartheid that made apartheid especially bad, not it's defence.

He could point to the fact that after the brutal intervention of the security branch in places like Mamelodi, these townships became peaceful.

De Klerk could show that relatively few people died in political conflict in the 40 years of Nationalist rule in African and even South American comparative terms.

According to the TRC report (which Mhambi reckons is actually an underestimation) just over 20,000 people died in political violence during Nationalist rule (1948 - 1994). That's a years worth of South African homicides. Discounting miltarty casualties, compare that with 27,000 women and children and 14,000 plus black South Africans dying in British camps during the Boer war. And the same number of killings in one year of Robert Mugabe's rule.

It pales against the intensity of the violence of the French war in Algeria, or Britains suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion on Kenya. And De Klerk could well argue that the stakes were higher. Let's not even go into the details of the violent conflicts in Biafra, Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Congo and now in Darfur. If violence is the barometor of guilt, the Nationalists would be more complicit for their involvment in the Angolan conflict than at home.

It's for the systematic discrimination that infected our town planning, architecture and inter personal relations that cemented inequality into the fabric of South African society, that an Afrikaner leader needs to say a deep heartfelt and profound sorry for.

Is it because the self righteous and religious De Klerk believed his own hype? Or perhaps he could not admit to his own ultra religious constituency that his and his colleagues denials of impropriety over the years were in fact just lies, damn lies?

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