May 15 (GIN) – In a televised interview with CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, former president FW de Klerk shocked and dismayed South Africans by defending the homeland policies that sent millions of Black South Africans to live in “Bantustans,” cancelling their citizenship in South Africa as a whole.
De Klerk, a Nobel Prize winner with Nelson Mandela, first agreed that apartheid was morally repugnant, but then added: ethnic unities with one culture with one language [everyone] can be happy and can fulfill their democratic aspirations in their own state, that is not repugnant.”
“(Blacks)were not put in homelands,” he continued. “The homelands were historically there. If only the developed world would put so much money into Africa, which is struggling with poverty, as we poured into those homelands. How many universities were built? How many schools?”
“At that stage the goal was separate but equal, but separate but equal failed.” He said he later became “a convert” against the system.
It has been estimated that 3.5 million people were forced from their homes from the 1960s through the 1980s, many being resettled in the Bantustans. The government made clear that its ultimate aim was the total removal of the black population from South Africa.
De Klerk’s comments sparked outrage on Twitter, blogs and Facebook. The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution was one of many: “We condemn in the strongest terms the reckless attempts by former president FW de Klerk to justify and defend the apartheid system.”
“The very notion of ‘separate development’ was at the centre of the apartheid ideology, and was predicated on notions of racist supremacy as was Nazism.”
The remarks were later described as “out of context” by the De Klerk Foundation. The ex-president added: “I was the one who for all practical purposes abolished apartheid. Why would I have nostalgia for that which I abolished?”