After 26 years South Africa is more divided than ever before.
This was the view expressed by former president F.W. de Klerk at a conference held in Cape Town today to commemorate the 26th anniversary of his speech that initiated South Africa’s transition into democracy.
“Racism is too much a part of the narrative of political leaders. Politicians including Jacob Zuma must avoid utterances that feed racism which is divisive,” he said.
His advice to the president was to focus on nation-building and develop a “peaceful, positive and constructive co- existence.”
“The overwhelming majority of South Africans are not racist,” said de Klerk.
He said there was no hierarchy of racism in South Africa, but that the African National Congress was “guilty of imposing such a hierarchy.”
The conference tackles the topic of multiculturalism in South Africa, with renowned struggle icons such as Mathews Phosa, Rhoda Kadalie and former Justice Albie Sachs, engaging on the topic.
Phosa said that he did not support the criminalization of racism.
“Criminalizing racism will only fill our courtrooms and prisons. It will lead to further racism….our leadership must address racism through their actions. When politicians comment on racism in the social media it is damaging,” said Phosa.
“For the record I need to say that Mr. Khumalo does not represent me or the other millions of peace-loving Black South Africans, the same way as Penny Sparrow doesn’t represent the white South Africans.”
He was referring to Gauteng sports department employee Velaphi Khumalo, who in response to Democratic Alliance member Penny Sparrow’s online comment comparing Blacks to monkeys, called for the country to do to whites what Hitler had done to the Jews.
In an attempt to tackle issues facing the country, de Klerk announced that he will be setting up a Center for Unity and Diversity.