|Name:||FW de Klerk|
|Birth Day:||March 18, 1936|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He rose up in the white-only government through contacts from his father.
F. W. de Klerk was born on 18 March 1936 in Mayfair, a suburb of Johannesburg. His parents were Johannes "Jan" de Klerk and Hendrina Cornelia Coetzer – "her forefather was a Kutzer who stems from Austria". He was his parents' second son, having a brother, Willem de Klerk, who was eight years his senior. De Klerk's first language is Afrikaans and the earliest of his distant ancestors to arrive in what is now South Africa did so in the late 1680s.
The de Klerk family moved around South Africa during his childhood, and he changed schools seven times over seven years. He eventually became a boarder at the Monument High School in Krugersdorp, where he graduated with a first-class pass in 1953. He was nevertheless disappointed not to get the four distinctions he was hoping for.
Between 1954 and 1958, de Klerk studied at Potchefstroom University, graduating with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law. He later noted that during this legal training, he "became accustomed to thinking in terms of legal principles". While studying there, he became editor of the student newspaper, vice-chair of the student council, and a member of the Afrikaanse Studentebond's national executive council. At university, he was initiated into the Broederbond, a secret society for the Afrikaner social elite. As a student, he played both tennis and hockey and was known as "something of a ladies' man". At the university, he began a relationship with Marike Willemse, the daughter of a professor at the University of Pretoria. The couple married in 1959, when de Klerk was 23 and his wife 22.
After university, de Klerk pursued a legal career, becoming an articled clerk with the firm Pelser in Klerksdorp. Relocating to Pretoria, he became an articled clerk for another law firm, Mac-Robert. In 1962, he set up his own law partnership in Vereeniging, Transvaal, which he built into a successful business over ten years. During this period, he involved himself in a range of other activities. He was the national chair of the Junior Rapportryers for two years, and chair of the Law Society of Vaal Triangle. He was also on the council of the local technikon, on the council of his church, and on a local school board.
In 1972, his alma mater offered him a chair in its law faculty, which he accepted. Within a matter of days he was also approached by members of the National Party, who requested that he stand for the party at Vereeniging. De Klerk's candidature was successful and in November he was elected to the House of Assembly. There, he established a reputation as a formidable debater. He took on a number of roles in the party and government. He became the information officer of the Transvaal National Party, responsible for its propaganda output, and helped to establish a new National Party youth movement. He joined various party parliamentary study groups, including those on the Bantustans, labour, justice, and home affairs. As a member of various parliamentary groups, de Klerk went on several foreign visits, to Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, and United States. It was in the latter in 1976 that he observed what he later described as the pervasive racism of U.S. society, later noting that he "saw more racial incidents in one month there than in South Africa in a year". In South Africa, de Klerk also played a senior role in two select committees, one formulating a policy on opening hotels to non-whites and the other formulating a new censorship law that was less strict than the one that had preceded it.
In 1975, Prime Minister John Vorster predicted that de Klerk would one day become leader of South Africa. Vorster planned to promote de Klerk to the position of a deputy minister in January 1976, but instead the job went to Andries Treurnicht. In April 1978, de Klerk was promoted to the position of Minister of Social Welfare and Pensions. In this role, he restored full autonomy to sporting control bodies which had for a time been under the jurisdiction of the government. As minister of Post and Telecommunications he finalised contracts that oversaw the electrification of that sector. As Minister of Mining he formalised a policy on coal exports and the structuring of Eskom and the Atomic Energy Corporation. He then became Minister of the Interior, he oversaw the repeal of the Mixed Marriages Act. In 1981, de Klerk was awarded the Decoration for Meritorious Service for his work in the government. As education minister between 1984 and 1989 he upheld the apartheid system in South Africa's schools, and extended the department to cover all racial groups.
De Klerk is also a Member of the Advisory Board of the Global Panel Foundation based in Berlin, Copenhagen, New York, Prague, Sydney and Toronto – founded by the Dutch entrepreneur Bas Spuybroek in 1988, with the support of Dutch billionaire Frans Lurvink and former Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek. The Global Panel Foundation is known for its behind-the-scenes work in public policy and the annual presentation of the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award with the Prague Society for International Cooperation.
P. W. Botha resigned as leader of the National Party after an apparent stroke, and de Klerk defeated Botha's preferred successor, finance minister Barend du Plessis, in the race to succeed him. On 2 February 1989, he was elected leader of the National Party. He defeated main rival Barend du Plessis to the position by a majority of eight votes, 69–61. Soon after, he called for the introduction of a new South African constitution, hinting that it would need to provide greater concession to non-white racial groups. After becoming party leader, de Klerk extended his foreign contacts. He travelled to London, where he met with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Although she opposed the anti-apartheid movement's calls for economic sanctions against South Africa, at the meeting she urged de Klerk to release the imprisoned anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. He also expressed a desire to meet with representatives of the U.S. government in Washington D.C., although American Secretary of State James Baker informed him that the U.S. government considered it inopportune to have de Klerk meet with President George H. W. Bush.
On 2 February 1990, in an address to the country's parliament, he introduced plans for sweeping reforms of the political system. A number of banned political parties, including the ANC and Communist Party of South Africa, would be legalised, although he emphasized that this did not constitute an endorsement of their socialist economic policies nor of violent actions carried out by their members, and the Separate Amenities Act of 1953, which governed the segregation of public facilities, would be lifted and all of those who were imprisoned solely for belonging to a banned organisation would be freed, including Nelson Mandela; the latter was released a week later. The vision set forth in de Klerk's address was for South Africa to become a Western-style liberal democracy; with a market-oriented economy which valued private enterprise and restricted the government's role in economics.
In 1990, de Klerk gave orders to end South Africa's nuclear weapons programme; the process of nuclear disarmament was essentially completed in 1991. The existence of the programme was not officially acknowledged before 1993.
Glad and Blanton stated that de Klerk, along with Mandela, "accomplished the rare feat of bringing about systemic revolution through peaceful means." His brother noted that de Klerk's role in South African history was "to dismantle more than three centuries of white supremacy", and that in doing so his was "not a role of white surrender, but a role of white conversion to a new role" in society. In September 1990, Potchefstroom University awarded de Klerk with an honorary doctorate.
His presidency was dominated by the negotiation process, mainly between his NP government and the ANC, which led to the democratization of South Africa. Throughout the negotiations, de Klerk primarily sought to prevent majority rule to preserve power for the white South African minority. His efforts, however, were thwarted when the Boipatong massacre caused a resurgence of international pressure against South Africa, leading to a weaker position at the negotiation tables for the National party. In 1992, de Klerk held a whites-only referendum on ending apartheid, with the result being an overwhelming "yes" vote to continue negotiations to end apartheid. Nelson Mandela was distrustful of the role played by de Klerk in the negotiations, particularly as he believed that de Klerk was knowledgeable about 'third force' attempts to foment violence in the country and destabilize the negotiations.
In 1993, de Klerk and Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in ending apartheid. The awarding of the prize to de Klerk was controversial, especially in the light of de Klerk's reported admission that he ordered a massacre of supposed Azanian People's Liberation Army fighters, including teenagers, shortly before going to Oslo in 1993. It appears that this massacre may form part of the basis for criminal charges that the Anti-Racism Action Forum laid against de Klerk in early 2016. Further, de Klerk's role in the destabilization of the country during the negotiation process through the operation of a 'third force' came to the attention of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and was never ultimately clarified.
In 1993, de Klerk issued an apology for the actions of the apartheid government, stating that: "It was not our intention to deprive people of their rights and to cause misery, but eventually apartheid led to just that. Insofar as that occurred we deeply regret it... Yes we are sorry". Tutu urged for people to accept the apology, stating that "saying sorry is not an easy thing to do... We should be magnanimous and accept it as a magnanimous act", although was privately frustrated that de Klerk's apology had been qualified and had not gone so far as to call apartheid an intrinsically evil policy.
After the first universal elections in 1994, de Klerk became deputy president in the government of national unity under Nelson Mandela; in 1996, de Klerk withdrew the National Party from Mandela's government, becoming leader of the official opposition. In 1997 he resigned the leadership of the National Party and retired from politics.
De Klerk's working relationship with Mandela was often strained, with the former finding it difficult adjusting to the fact that he was no longer president. De Klerk also felt that Mandela deliberately humiliated him, while Mandela found de Klerk to be needlessly provocative in cabinet. One dispute occurred in September 1995, after Mandela gave a Johannesburg speech criticising the National Party. Angered, de Klerk avoided Mandela until the latter requested they meet; when they ran into each other, they publicly argued in the street. Mandela later expressed regret for their disagreement but did not apologise for his original comments. De Klerk was also having problems from within his own party, some of whose members claimed that he was neglecting the party while in the government.
Many in the National Party—including many members of its executive committee—were unhappy with the other parties' agreed upon new constitution in May 1996. The party had wanted the constitution to guarantee that it would be represented in the government until 2004, although it did not do this. On 9 May, de Klerk withdrew the National Party from the coalition government. The decision shocked several of his six fellow Afrikaner cabinet colleagues; Pik Botha, for example, was left without a job as a result. Roelf Meyer felt betrayed by de Klerk's act, while Leon Wessels thought that de Klerk had not tried hard enough to make the coalition work. De Klerk declared that he would lead the National Party in vigorous opposition to Mandela's government to ensure "a proper multi-party democracy, without which there may be a danger of South Africa lapsing into the African pattern of one-party states".
In 1997, de Klerk was offered the Harper Fellowship at Yale Law School. He declined, citing protests at the university. De Klerk did, however, speak at Central Connecticut State University the day before his fellowship would have begun.
In 1999, de Klerk and his wife of 38 years, Marike de Klerk, were divorced following the discovery of his affair with Elita Georgiades, then the wife of Tony Georgiades, a Greek shipping tycoon who had allegedly given de Klerk and the NP financial support. Soon after his divorce, de Klerk and Georgiades were married. His divorce and remarriage scandalised conservative South African opinion, especially among the Calvinist Afrikaners. In 2000, his autobiography, The Last Trek – A New Beginning, was published. In 2002, following the murder of his former wife, the manuscript of her own autobiography, A Place Where the Sun Shines Again, was submitted to de Klerk, who urged the publishers to suppress a chapter dealing with his infidelity.
In 2000, de Klerk established the pro-peace FW de Klerk Foundation of which he is the chairman. De Klerk is also chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation, headquartered in London, which he set up in 2004, an organisation which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organisation composed of former heads of government and senior governmental and international organisation officials who work closely with heads of government on governance-related issues of concern to them.
On 3 December 2001, Marike de Klerk was found stabbed and strangled to death in her Cape Town flat. De Klerk, who was on a brief visit to Stockholm, Sweden, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Nobel Prize foundation, immediately returned to mourn his dead ex-wife. The atrocity was reportedly condemned strongly by South African president Thabo Mbeki and Winnie Mandela, among others, who openly spoke in favour of Marike de Klerk. On 6 December 21-year-old security guard Luyanda Mboniswa was arrested for the murder. On 15 May 2003, he received two life sentences for murder, as well as three years for breaking into Marike de Klerk's apartment.
In 2004, de Klerk quit the New National Party and sought a new political home after the NNP merged with the ruling ANC. That same year, while giving an interview to US journalist Richard Stengel, de Klerk was asked whether South Africa had turned out the way he envisioned it back in 1990. His response was:
In 2006, he underwent surgery for a malignant tumour in his colon. His condition deteriorated sharply, and he underwent a tracheotomy after developing respiratory problems. He recovered and on 11 September 2006 gave a speech at Kent State University Stark Campus.
In January 2007, de Klerk was a speaker promoting peace and democracy in the world at the "Towards a Global Forum on New Democracies" event in Taipei, Taiwan, along with other dignitaries including Poland's Lech Wałęsa and Taiwan's then president Chen Shui-Bian.
In 2008, he repeated in a speech that "despite all the negatives facing South Africa, he is very positive about the country".
After the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as South Africa's president in May 2009, de Klerk said he is optimistic that Zuma and his government can "confound the prophets of doom".
In a BBC interview broadcast in April 2012, he said he lived in an all-white neighbourhood. He had five servants, three coloured and two black: "We are one great big family together; we have the best of relationships." About Nelson Mandela, he said, "When Mandela goes it will be a moment when all South Africans put away their political differences, will take hands, and will together honour maybe the biggest known South African that has ever lived."
Upon hearing of the death of Mandela, de Klerk said: "He was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy." He attended the memorial service for him on 10 December 2013.
In 2015, de Klerk wrote to The Times newspaper in the UK criticising moves to remove a statue to Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford. He was subsequently criticized by some activists who described it as "ironic" that the last apartheid President should be defending a statue of a man labelled by critics as the "architect of apartheid". The Economic Freedom Fighters called for him to be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize.
On February 2, 2020, de Klerk made a statement during an interview with SABC, a South African state broadcaster that "the idea that apartheid was a crime against humanity was and remains an agitprop project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatize white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity." Considering the former South African President on the 30th anniversary of his speech, declaring the liberation of Nelson Mandela from prison, made such contended statements, many South Africans were outraged. According to an article written by Al Jazeera's journalist Mia Swart, the son of Fort Calata, one of the "Cradock Four," Lukhanyo Catala stated that the statements made by de Klerk "reinforces our belief that de Klerk has never really seen us as human beings. He's never assigned any human value to our family." The article continues by stating many people around the world are calling for de Klerk's Nobel Peace Prize to be stripped from him. Although, de Klerk's Foundation retracted his statement on February 17, the Economic Freedom Fighters announced their letter of rejection to his apology later that day on Twitter.
Currently, FW de Klerk is 85 years, 3 months and 4 days old. FW de Klerk will celebrate 86th birthday on a Friday 18th of March 2022.
Find out about FW de Klerk birthday activities in timeline view here.