De Klerk denies Afrikaner sell-out jibes

FW de Klerk, the last white-minority president of South Africa, denied yesterday that he was under pressure to resign as leader of the National Party, despite a week of relentless and unprecedented attacks in the conservative Afrikaner press.

Die Burger and Rapport - traditionally NP-supporting - together with right-wing intellectuals, have accused Mr de Klerk of selling out the Afrikaners' right to self-determination during the 1994 negotiations which ended white-minority rule.

The newspapers seized on comments made by Mr de Klerk on a recent visit to London and on old claims in a new book that the African National Congress (ANC) was surprised at how easily the NP caved in during the crucial negotiations.

Izak de Villiers, editor of Rapport, issued a rallying cry at the weekend, arguing that the "broad Afrikaans community must mount a recovery action as never before" in its history.

The campaign against Mr de Klerk - arguably the most vicious against an NP leader in more than 40 years - reflects panic and paranoia in the Afrikaner community which claims its language, culture, and identity are dying.

Disaffection is growing, reflected at one extreme by the bombings at Christmas by right-wingers and the recent arrest of ultra-nationalists on charges of stealing arms from an army base. Dissatisfaction is reflected more generally in polls which show a significant drop in support for the NP.

Yesterday, on the morning that the Cape Times reported that NP unity and De Klerk leadership were now on the line, Mr de Klerk came out fighting.

"It wasn't a defeat," he said of the 1994 negotiated transfer of power. "It was an historic accord which saved this country from a civil war ... I have nothing I am ashamed of and nothing to apologise for."

Mr de Klerk said the entire debate about what was won and lost in 1994 was "sterile". Rounding on other "white" parties who joined in the criticism, he mocked politicians who mustered but a fraction of the NP's votes and scorned the right-wing Freedom Front's preoccupation with the creation of an Afrikaners' Volkstaat in some corner of South Africa.

But Mr de Klerk admitted that the recent assault had a grass-roots base, saying it was a sign of frustration in a community which felt it was being "hounded". But to look for scapegoats was not the solution, he argued.

He urged Afrikaners to look forward. Despite recent failures by the party to form alliances with other minority parties, he stood by the idea that the NP could go into the next election at the head of an opposition alliance.

Analysts argue that the NP is too weighed down by the baggage of apartheid to lead a viable opposition or to attract sufficient black votes. Mr de Klerk said yesterday that he realised the harm apartheid had done South Africa. But he argued that the development of one-party government was "unhealthy" in a democracy. It is a message which rings rather hollow coming from a party which for decades brutally repressed all democratic movements.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own