Social networking site Twitter was abuzz on Friday morning following comments made by former president FW de Klerk during a CNN interview.
“Can’t sleep after FW De Klerk interview on CNN. Counting to 10 isn’t helping. Justifying apartheid in 2012? and apparently homelands were great!” Talk Radio 702 host Redi Tlhabi wrote on Thursday night.
Another tweeter @siyamtandaskota said: “This man is insane!!! Now he says blacks weren’t disenfranchised — they voted in the homelands. Is FW De Klerk mad??!!”.
“FW De Klerk says he ‘was good friends with Madiba’. I don’t want to be friends with him if he’s gonna stick his friends on Robben Island,” @f__kyeahbryan tweeted.
De Klerk was interviewed by the global news network at a summit of Nobel laureates in Chicago on Thursday night, The Times reported.
He discussed his “historical antagonism” and current friendship with former president Nelson Mandela, the failure of the apartheid system, and the shortcomings of the current government.
When asked whether he agreed that apartheid was morally repugnant, he said: “In as much as it trampled human rights it was and remains morally indefensible.”
However, De Klerk then reportedly appeared to defend the homeland system: “But the concept of giving, as the Czechs have it now, and the Slovaks have it, of saying that ethnic unity with one culture with one language [everyone] can be happy and can fulfil their democratic aspirations in an own state, that is not repugnant.”
He denied that blacks in the homelands were disenfranchised.
“They were not disenfranchised, they voted. They were not put in homelands, 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.
When he asked about the state of South Africa’s democracy De Klerk reportedly said: “I’m convinced it’s a solid democracy and it will remain so, but it’s not a healthy democracy.”
He said the ANC alliance needed to split because it was unhealthy for one party to so dominate the political landscape, The Times reported.