President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised apartheid’s last President FW de Klerk’s denial that apartheid was a crime against humanity.
In his reply to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate in Parliament on Thursday, Ramaphosa said apartheid was “inherently” a crime against humanity.
He added, “It was a crime against the oppressed people of South Africa even before it was so declared by the United Nations in 1973.”
‘Denial of apartheid’s immorality is treasonous’
The President said the countries which voted for the UN convention on apartheid could never have been “hoodwinked” or “deceived” into doing so.
“Apartheid was so immoral in its conception and so devastating in its execution that there is no South African living today who is not touched by its legacy. I would even go on to say that to deny this, in my view, is treasonous,” he emphasised.
De Klerk sparked the controversy earlier this month in an interview with SABC News in which he denied that apartheid was a crime against humanity.
In response to his denial, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) objected to his presence in Parliament at the start of SONA last week.
The FW de Klerk Foundation compounded the controversy a day later by releasing a statement supporting de Klerk’s views.
In its statement, it said, “The idea that apartheid was ‘a crime against humanity’ was, and remains, an ‘agitprop’ [political propaganda] project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatise white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity.”
This drew even more condemnation from public figures, political parties and other organisations, including the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation.
De Klerk eventually apologised unconditionally for his comments in a statement on Monday while retracting his Foundation’s earlier statement.
In his speech on Thursday, Ramaphosa said all leaders have a responsibility to build a “genuinely nonracial society in which all South Africans have an equal claim to rights, to the citizenship and to the wealth of this beautiful land.”
He added, “For us, nonracialism is not the product of our negotiated transition. It is a fundamental and immutable principle that defines the character of our democratic nation.”