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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.

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I would like to welcome you to this - the FW de Klerk Foundation’s - 10th annual conference.  We instituted the conferences in 2010 to mark the 20th anniversary of the commencement of our great national transformation process. 

In June this year the Foundation will be celebrating its 20thbirthday:  for 20 years we have been doing everything we can to uphold and promote the Constitution that is the foundation of our new society - and that remains the best hope for peace, progress and justice for all South Africans.

I welcome this opportunity - on the eve of the 25th anniversary of our new non-racial constitutional democracy - to join in a discussion on one of the most important challenges facing our country: the need to achieve equality.

The achievement of equality was one of the prime goals that we set for our new society when we adopted our present Constitution in 1996. Together with human dignity, the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racism and non-sexism it was one of the core founding values on which our new constitutional dispensation was constructed.

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Dear Mr President, FW De Klerk,

Dear Mr Steward,

Distinguished panelists, Dr Botha and Prof Bhorat,

Dear Members of Parliament, the diplomatic corps, representatives from state institutions and from civil-society,

Dear Theuns Eloff and all the great staff members of the FW de Klerk Foundation,

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends

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The FW de Klerk Foundation will dedicate its 2019 Annual Conference on Friday, 1 February, to one of the most critical challenges confronting the nation, inequality. Election years, with their promises and platitudes, have not addressed this grave issue. The Foundation will reflect on this matter but also go further and ask the vital question, “What is to be done?” 

Inequality in South Africa is stubbornly high and has over the last 24 years grown increasingly persistent. A 2018 World Bank report aptly sums up the triple challenge confronting the country including, “high poverty, high inequality and high unemployment”. While there is no quick fix to these challenges, the fact of the matter is that if we as a country do not address this deep-rooted problem effectively, we will not be a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious society. In addition, striving for equality is one of the basic mandates of our Constitution.


The University of Pretoria (UP) successfully won a court challenge against its “English only” language policy in December 2016. Since then, it prepared the way for this policy to be implemented. Last week, the UP found it necessary to announce that from this year, all first-year students will only be taught in English. This is not new, as the decision was already taken almost three years ago. 

Nevertheless, the statement by the UP warrants analysis and commentary, for three significant reasons.  Firstly, the media statement made by the UP’s spokesperson, Rikus Delport; secondly the comments by the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe; and thirdly the tweet on the issue by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni (being a former Chancellor of the former University of the North-West in Mafikeng).

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It is a great pleasure once again to address the Cape Town Press Club.  

In the course of my speech I shall endeavour to revisit the remarkable process that culminated 25 years ago in the fundamental constitutional transformation of South Africa.  

I shall examine how we have fared since then in advancing the values on which our Constitution and our new society have been founded.  And, on the eve of critically important national elections in May this year, I shall briefly assess our prospects for the next 25 years.

Now, 25 years later, we South Africans are inclined to forget our historic achievement in successfully managing the fundamental transformation of our society from rule by the white national minority to genuine non-racial constitutional democracy.

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The media is replete with reportage on commissions and inquiries currently underway in South Africa, all intent on unearthing the truth - the truth about State capture and corruption (Zondo Commision), the truth about the fitness of two top officials in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to hold office (Mokgoro Commission), the truth about tax administration and governance at SARS (the Nugent Inquiry) and the truth about the PIC, Africa’s largest asset manager (the Mpati Commission).

President Cyril Ramaphosa did indeed provide relief to a nation fatigued by corruption, capture and abuse of public funds by setting up or boosting these commissions of inquiry within nine months of his assumption of duties. He committed to cleaning up SARS, seeking new leadership at the NPA and at several State-owned enterprises (SOEs) including Eskom, PRASA, the SABC, Denel, and Transnet. He committed to unearthing the truth and setting the country on the right track. 

ct conf finalThe FW de Klerk Foundation - in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation - invites you to attend our Annual Conference. Our theme for 2019 is: “Addressing Inequality”.

The FW de Klerk Foundation annually hosts a conference on 2 February in Cape Town (this year's event falls on Friday, 1 February), to coincide with the announcement in Parliament in 1990 of the release of Nelson Mandela and other prisoners and the unbanning of several organisations. Each year the conference tackles a topical theme, with input from a diverse range of influential speakers. Previous speakers include former President Kgalema Motlanthe, Justice Albie Sachs, Dr Mathews Phosa, Ms Rhoda Kadalie, Prof Frans Viljoen, Mr Sipho Pityana, Adv Jeremy Gauntlett, Mr Johann Rupert and former President FW de Klerk. 

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The FW de Klerk Foundation, its Board of Trustees and its staff members, want to wish all our subscribers and supporters a prosperous and fulfilling 2019. We hope that you will be happy and blessed in both your professional and personal lives.

2019 is shaping up to be particularly exciting year and as usual, South Africans will not be bored! However, certain events on the national calendar, as well as the Foundation’s own calendar, make 2019 a special year.

In June, the Foundation will be celebrating its 20th year of existence, with a special event marking this milestone. More details will be released later, but it promises to be exceptional. The mission of the Foundation - to promote and protect the Constitution - remains of vital importance. 

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