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De Klerk: Looming ANC split ‘healthy’ for South Africa

Former South African president says race continues to dominate politics, calling for S Africa to ‘normalise’ politics.

Former President of South Africa Frederik Willem de Klerk has criticised current leader Jacob Zuma‘s African Nationalist Congress (ANC) party for failing to realise the country’s potential after the end of apartheid.

The man who helped to bring an end to the country’s apartheid policy by developing a one-person-one-vote policy across the country told Al Jazeera he was “very concerned” that race continues to dominate politics in the country, calling for South Africa to “normalise” its politics.

‘The ANC is being torn apart’


by ”FW

away from ethnically driven politics, towards policy-driven politics where people … irrespective of race or colour can … work together because they believe in the same things.”]

“[South Africa needs to move] away from ethnically driven politics towards policy-driven politics where people … irrespective of race or colour can … work together because they believe in the same things,” he told Al Jazeera’s Yehia Ghanem.

Pointing to poor economic policy and corruption under Zuma, de Klerk said that the ANC could not continue to exist in its current form.

“Bad leadership has led us to a point where the president of a country has lost his credibility. The ANC is being torn apart by faction fighting at the moment, and we don’t have clear, well-balanced, credible and morally sound political leadership in South Africa,” he said.

“[The ANC] will split because you have in the same party true red communists, you have people committed to free enterprise, you have people with totally different ideological and policy principles in which they believe,” said de Klerk.

“It cannot last. So, I see a split and I think that can be healthy for South Africa.”

READ MORE: Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk: Enemies for peace

The ANC has been the ruling party in South Africa since it swept to power under Nelson Mandela in 1994.

The elections followed the lifting of a 30-year-ban against the party by de Klerk in 1990, and the release of many of its members, including Mandela, from prison.

Following the ANC victory, de Klerk, along with Thabo Mbeki, served as vice president under Mandela.

A world without nuclear weapons 

De Klerk also spoke to Al Jazeera about his concerns surrounding nuclear weapons, saying there is no “quick fix or simple recipe” for persuading nations to disarm.

Instead, he called for a complete revision of current regulations, which still reflect the balance of power at the end of the second world war, starting with a “new roundtable discussion to review and revise existing agreements”.

“All those who have it [nuclear weapons] – legitimately and illegitimately – will get rid of it in an organised, methodical way, which won’t disturb the balance of power. They need to reach a new agreement on denuclearisation,” he said.

Under de Klerk’s leadership, South Africa became the first country to voluntarily dismantle its nuclear bombs.

However, the former president did not confirm or deny allegations by former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils that Israel had assisted in the establishment of apartheid-South Africa’s nuclear weapons programme.

“They [Israel] showed no compunction, no concern or responsibility in terms of putting nuclear devices in the hands of an apartheid monster that was threatening the very lives of all the African people of this entire region,” Kasrils told Al Jazeera earlier this year.

De Klerk said, “I was never part of such cooperation and I never had information which justify such allegations.”

When he first learned of the country’s nuclear weapons programme, while serving as the minister of minerals and energy affairs, he was “quite shocked. According to de Klerk, he then “decided quietly in my heart if I’m ever in the position to rid South Africa of those bombs, I would do so.”

“I do believe in a nuclear weapon-free world.”