The remarks I made during my recent interview with Christiane Amanpour have been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. I would accordingly like to make my position perfectly clear.
The views I expressed related to the reasons why – as a young lawyer and politician way back in the 60’s and 70’s – I supported separate development. I did so within the context of the times and my wish to retain the historic right of my people to self-determination. I believed then that the problems of South Africa could be justly resolved by recognizing the right of all South Africa’s constituent peoples to self-determination through Nation States situated mainly in the areas of the country that they originally occupied. I have long since abandoned these views as an answer to South Africa’s challenges.
During the 1980s I had come to accept that there was no possibility that separate development could lead to a just and acceptable solution to the problems of South Africa. My colleagues in the leadership of the National Party and I went through a process of deep introspection. We concluded that apartheid was morally unjustifiable, that it could not be reformed, that the concept of separate development had led to manifest injustice and had to be abandoned. We further decided that South Africa’s problems could be resolved only by entering into negotiations between the genuine representatives of all its people. The goal would be to establish a non-racial constitutional democracy in which the rights of all South Africans and all our communities would be protected.
I embraced this new vision and dedicated my presidency to this goal. On 2 February 1990 I launched the initiatives that opened the way to inclusive constitutional negotiations. I presided over the repeal of the remaining apartheid laws and the reincorporation of the national states. I persuaded my constituency to accept the risks that were involved in accepting a new dispensation. I played a leading role in the negotiations that led ultimately to the adoption of our non-racial constitutional democracy in 1996.
I identify myself completely with the values and aspirations expressed in our Constitution and have dedicated myself, in my retirement, to doing everything I can to uphold the Constitution.
I have no residual belief in, or attachment to, separate development. Whatever the intentions may have been, I concluded many years ago that it had failed and that it had resulted in manifest injustice. In May 1997, in my address to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission I said that apartheid was wrong and apologised to “the millions of South Africans who had suffered the wrenching disruption of being arbitrarily deprived of their homes, businesses and land because of forced removals; who over the years had suffered the shame of being arrested for pass law offences; who over the decades – and indeed centuries – suffered the indignities and humiliation of racial discrimination; who were prevented from exercising their full democratic rights in the land of their birth; who were unable to achieve their full potential because of job reservation; and who received inadequate social, medical and education services.”
FW De Klerk