Biographical Videos on the Life and Career of FW de Klerk

Issued By the FW de Klerk Foundation on 18/03/2023


In the last year of FW de Klerk’s life, the FW de Klerk Foundation produced a series of video interviews in which the President shared his memories of his life and career.

The series includes 17 videos ranging between 20 and 25 minutes in duration. The interviews were conducted by Dave Steward, Chairman of the FW de Klerk Foundation and a long-time associate and friend of the President. They feature photographs and TV clips illustrating the various periods of FW de Klerk’s life.   

The Foundation will release the first episode of the series on 18 March – which would have been FW de Klerk’s 87th birthday. It will then continue to release episodes every two weeks for the next 34 weeks. Each episode will be available on YouTube and the Foundation’s website (

The Foundation believes that the videos – together with its proposed FW de Klerk Archive – will make an important contribution to the preservation of FW de Klerk’s legacy.  It hopes that they will provide a useful resource for scholars and historians – and that they will be of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about the life of FW de Klerk and the crucial role that he played in the constitutional transformation of South Africa.

The Biographical Videos will include the following episodes:

Episode 1: Roots: Childhood; Family & School (1936 – 1952)

Episode 2: University; Marriage & Career as an Attorney in Vereeniging (1953 – 1972)

Episode 3: Politics; Separate Development; Back Bencher and Junior Minister in Prime Minister John Vorster’s Government (1972 – 1978)

Episode 4: Minister under PW Botha; Reform Measures – Mixed Sport, the Repeal of the Mixed Marriages and Immorality Acts; Split in the NP and Campaign against Andries Treurnicht and the Right Wing (1978 – 1982)

Episode 5: The Tricameral Parliament; Role as Chairman of the Council of Ministers in the House of Assembly; Reform Debate in the NP Leadership; Country-wide Unrest and the National States of Emergency; Relationship with PW Botha; the Rubicon Speech; Role as Minister of National Education; 1987 Election (1984 -1988)

Episode 6: Factors that Led to Transformation:  Success of the State of Emergency and Restoration of Order; Sanctions and International Isolation; Battles in Southern Angola; Soviet Decision to withdraw from Southern Africa; Tripartite Agreement of 1988; Implementation of the UN Independence Plan in Namibia; Acceptance by All Sides that There Could Not be a Military/Revolutionary Solution; Changing White Attitudes (1984-1988)

Episode 7: Election as Leader of the National Party (Pik Botha, Chris Heunis and Barend du Plessis); Overseas Visits; Stand-off with President PW Botha and PWB’s Resignation; Acting President; NI talks with the ANC in Geneva; September 1989 Election;  Inauguration as State President (1989)

Episode 8: First Months as President; Permission for Protests and Marches – Archbishop Tutu and UDF; Addresses to the Leadership of the SADF and the SAP; Release of Remaining Robben Island Prisoners; First Meeting with Nelson Mandela; Debate within NP Leadership re Transformation; Team Building Meeting; Drafting of the 2 February Speech; Delivery and Communication Planning of the Speech (September 1989 – 2 February 1990)

Episode 9: Release of Nelson Mandela from Prison; First Meetings with the ANC at Groote Schuur; the ANC’s Armed Struggle; Pretoria and DF Malan Minutes; the Problem of Violence; the Peace Accord and the Appointment of the Goldstone Commission; First Meeting of CODESA; Mandela’s Bitter Attack (February 1990 – December 1991)

Episode 10: By-election Losses and the Referendum; the Commencement of Negotiations at CODESA, 1992 – Progress and Frustrations in Working Group II; ANC Decision to Withdraw from CODESA; Boipatong; Leipzig Option, Rolling Mass Action; Bisho Incident; and Record of Understanding (December 1991 – September 1992)

Episode 11: Allegations Regarding ‘Third Force Violence’; the Harms Commission; The Raid of the Goldstone Commission on the DCC, November 1992; the Appointment of the Steyn Commission;  General Steyn’s Report to Government Leaders, December 1992; Remedial Steps; the Adoption of the Further Indemnity Act (September – December, 1992)

Episode 12: The Commencement of Negotiations in the National Negotiating Forum; the Assassination of Chris Hani, 10 April 1993; Progress in the NNF; Discussions with Mandela on the last outstanding Issues ‘The Six Pack’; Adoption of the Interim Constitution by Parliament; the Nobel Peace Prize and Friction with Nelson Mandela January – December 1993)

Episode 13: Foreign Relations: International Travels as President; USA – President Bush; Europe – Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl; Russia, Far East, Latin America – Success in Lifting of Sanctions; Personal Impressions of World Leaders; Announcement of South Africa’s Decision to Dismantle its Nuclear Weapons (1990 –1994)

Episode 14: The Run-up to the 1994 Election; the Transitional Executive Council; Goldstone’s Report Regarding Vlakplaas and Action against SAP Generals; the Bophuthatswana Crisis; Last-minute Efforts to Persuade Buthelezi, IFP and Right-wing Parties to Participate in the Elections;  the IFP’s Election Campaign (January – April, 1994)

Episode 15: The 27 April Elections; Concession Speech; Inauguration of President Mandela; Government of National Unity; FW de Klerk’s Role; Initial Cooperation; Increasing Clashes with Mandela; Negotiations on the Final Constitution and Failure to Achieve Agreement on Power-Sharing; Increasing Frustrations within the GNU and Decision to Withdraw (1994 – 1996)

Episode 16: The TRC; Disagreement with President Mandela Regarding the Composition of the TRC; Initiative to Encourage Parties to Present their Perspectives to the TRC; First and Second Appearances before the TRC; Experiences with the TRC and Court Cases; Leader of the Opposition; Succession Problems; Departure of Roelf Meyer; Decision to Retire from Politics (July 1996 – September 1997)

Episode 17: Writing of Autobiography and Establishment of the FW de Klerk Foundation; Meetings with Teams led by President Mbeki; Afrikaans at University Level; the NNP Alliance with the DP; the Dissolution of the NNP into the ANC; the GLF; Nobel Peace Laureate Summits and International Travel (1997 – 2021)