Johannesburg: South Africa’s last white president, FW de Klerk has sparked controversy in the country after he defended certain elements of apartheid during a TV interview.
De Klerk, who won the Noble Peace Prize along with former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1993, claimed the idea of apartheid ethnic separation was ‘not repugnant’.
There has been large-scale condemnation of De Klerk’s comments by the black community in the country, The Daily Mail reports.
When asked by the interviewer whether he believed apartheid had been morally repugnant. De Klerk answered: “In as much as it trampled human rights it was and remains morally indefensible.”
“I have made the most profound apology in front of the Truth Commission and on other occasions about the injustices which were wrought by apartheid.”
But he said: “What I haven`t apologized for is the original concept of seeking to bring justice to all South Africans through the concept of nation states.”
“In South Africa it failed. By the end of the 70s we had to realize, and accept and admit to ourselves that it had failed. And that is when fundamental reform started,” he added.
When he was asked a second time whether he believed the apartheid policy had been morally wrong, he said: “I can only say in a qualified way. In as much as it trampled human right, it was - and remains - and that I`ve said also publicly, morally reprehensible.”
“But the concept of giving as the Czechs have it and the Slovaks have it, of saying that ethnic unities with one culture, with one language, can be happy and can fulfill their democratic aspirations in an own state, that is not repugnant,” he added.
“They were not put in homelands, the homelands were historically there. At that stage the goal was separate but equal, but separate but equal failed," he said.