A selection of significant quotes from speeches by former President FW de Klerk
THE MEANING OF OUR TRANSITION
Cape Town, 27 April 2014
"27 April is not only the 20th anniversary of our first inclusive non-racial democratic election:
- It is also the date on which our first non-racial and fully democratic constitution came into effect;
- Most importantly, it is the date on which all South Africans were endowed with fundamental human rights - including the rights to dignity, equality and non-racialism.
"27 April did not constitute the victory of some South Africans over others. It was a glorious victory for us all. On 27 April all of us - whatever our race - enjoyed far greater rights and freedoms than any of us had previously enjoyed before.
"It was our proudest moment as South Africans - regardless of our race, our gender or our background. To the astonishment of the whole world we had succeeded in overcoming centuries of bitterness, conflict, repression and division to reach an historic agreement on the future of our country."
WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF WE HAD NOT ACCEPTED THE NEED FOR TRANSFORMATION?
Cape Town, 2 February 2010
"Some believe that the former government could have continued to rule in perpetuity regardless of the clear threats that had developed during the 1980s. The reality is that, had we not grasped the transformation initiative when we did in February 1990 South Africa would soon have been completely isolated in the international community. Our international trade would have ground to a halt; we would have been confronted by escalating conflict on our borders and in our townships.
"We would, no doubt, have been able to maintain control for many years but under increasingly grim and unacceptable circumstances. Our young men would have spent half their time in military service; many more white South Africans would have left the country; and there would have been pervasive white poverty and unemployment among those who remained. Worse still, the prospects for a satisfactory negotiated settlement would have diminished with each successive cycle of revolution and repression."
IS THE CONSTITUTION A WESTERN CONSTRUCTION?
2 February 2010
"Some even regard the Constitution and many of the rights and values that it espouses as a Western construction with little relevance for Africa. They accordingly show little compunction in ignoring or circumventing provisions that they do not like.
"Let me disabuse those who harbour such views:
- The proposition that governments should be subject to the rule of law is not a western concept. It is the sine qua non for effective governance everywhere in the world.
- The recognition of cultural and language rights is essential for the promotion of harmony and national cohesion in multicultural societies everywhere. Failure to accommodate such rights is the greatest single source of conflict throughout the world - whether it is in Africa, south Asia or South America.
- Independent judiciaries are as essential for the maintenance of justice in Africa as they are in any other part of the world;
- The protection of private property is the essential foundation for economic growth and development everywhere. There are no exceptions.
- Sound macro-economic policies do not work only in Europe, North America and East Asia. They bring benefits wherever they are implemented.
"Looking back over the past twenty years it is clear that South Africa has done best when it has followed these benchmarks - and it has done worst when it has ignored them."
Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation