POLL | Has much changed since FW de Klerk's 1990 speech?

04 February 2020 - 05:56 By Unathi Nkanjeni
On February 2 1990, former president FW de Klerk delivered a speech in which he unbanned political organisations and paved the way for a new landscape in SA.
On February 2 1990, former president FW de Klerk delivered a speech in which he unbanned political organisations and paved the way for a new landscape in SA.
Image: Gallo Images

It has been 30 years since the apartheid government announced the unbanning of political movements such as the ANC, PAC and SACP, and the release of apartheid prisoners, paving the way for the end of white minority rule.

Former president FW de Klerk used his speech at the opening of parliament in 1990 to address these and several other issues, including the death penalty and human rights.

It was seen as a catalyst for dramatic and surprising events.

Nine days after delivering his speech on February 2 that year, former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years and, within three months, the first bilateral talks between the ANC and De Klerk's government took place.

The speech also marked the beginning of a radical new political landscape in SA.

According to De Klerk, the reason for the moves outlined in his speech was to “bring justice to all”.

“Knowing what I know today I would have made that same speech 30 years ago. It had to be done and it had to be done to bring justice, and it had to be done to avert catastrophe in SA,” he told eNCA on Sunday, as South Africans reflected on the country's past.

“I could not have made that speech if the Berlin wall did not come down with the communist threat, which was more real than people nowadays believe. There was a real threat.”

Has much changed since then?


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