Don't thank FW for Mandela's freedom, Ramaphosa tells anniversary crowd

11 February 2020 - 16:38 By Bobby Jordan
President Cyril Ramaphosa alongside the statue of Nelson Mandela on the Cape Town City Hall balcony on February 11 2020.
President Cyril Ramaphosa alongside the statue of Nelson Mandela on the Cape Town City Hall balcony on February 11 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

The release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 was not an act of kindness on the part of then-president FW de Klerk, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.

Instead, Mandela’s release was the inevitable consequence of public protest against the apartheid regime.

Nelson Mandela on the Cape Town City Hall balcony on February 11 1990, flanked by Walter Sisulu and Cyril Ramaphosa.
Nelson Mandela on the Cape Town City Hall balcony on February 11 1990, flanked by Walter Sisulu and Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Gallo Images

“It was not an act of kindness of FW de Klerk,” Ramaphosa said when speaking at Cape Town city hall to mark the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison.

“It was not because he was a kind-hearted man. It was because of pressure and the struggle that our people waged.”

Cyril Ramaphosa, right, on the Cape Town city hall balcony with Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on February 11 1990.
Cyril Ramaphosa, right, on the Cape Town city hall balcony with Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on February 11 1990.
Image: AFP

Speaking from the balcony he shared with Mandela on February 11 1990, and standing alongside the statue of Madiba now installed there, Ramaphosa also praised Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her role in the struggle while Mandela was in jail.

“She and many others kept the fires of resistance burning in the breasts of the people of this country,” he said.

Mandela united the country at a critical juncture and used his first public address to foster nation-building rather than denounce his captors.

“Nothing could describe that brief second when the microphone crackled,” said Ramaphosa, who was at Mandela’s side when he made his now famous first public speech after his release.


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