The Complicated Legacy of F W de Klerk

The result of his complicated legacy, the death of South Africa's last apartheid president, F W de Klerk, on November 11 2021 generated a flood of differing assessments. De Klerk wrote himself into the history of South Africa on February 2 1990, when he announced the unbanning of the African National Party (ANC) and other liberation movements, as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. While this set South Africa on the path of reform, De Klerk’s failure to break free of apartheid thinking was evident throughout the years that would follow.

To arrive at a rounded, fact-based understanding of De Klerk’s place in history, Dan is joined by “Mac” Maharaj. Mac has been involved in the freedom struggle since 1952. After serving a twelve-year sentence on Robben Island from 1965-1976, he was appointed secretary of the department charged with organising the ANC within South Africa. Mac served alongside De Klerk in the first democratic cabinet, led by Mandela. As joint secretary of the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum and the Transitional Executive Council, Mac was directly involved in the negotiations that produced the transition from apartheid to democracy.

Mac is the co-author of the upcoming Breakthrough: The Struggles and Secret Talks that Brought Apartheid SA to the Negotiating Table