President Jacob Zuma says the last apartheid president, FW de Klerk, was as much of a conservative Afrikaner leader as his predecessor PW Botha.

The late Botha was seen as a belligerent conservative who adopted a policy of "total onslaught" against the liberation movement.

De Klerk, on the other hand, has been lauded as a "verligte" who released former president Nelson Mandela from prison.

Last week Zuma drew some criticism after he lauded both former National Party leaders for the roles they played in bringing about a peaceful political transition in South Africa.

In his reply yesterday, Zuma said De Klerk was as much a "killer" as Botha was - both being former heads of the apartheid killing machine.

Zuma said at the time that Botha sent two apartheid government officials to meet him and Thabo Mbeki "De Klerk was leading a verkrampte group within the NP".

"Now somebody is going to tell me that De Klerk is not a killer and that he is holy?"

Zuma also rejected criticism from opposition parties that he had failed to stop ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema from calling for the nationalisation of mines.

"Nationalisation is not government policy. (But) this is a democratic society and we cannot stop political formations from opening debate on this or any other topic," Zuma told MPs yesterday in Parliament.

"If Malema raises nationalisation they must raise a counter-argument instead of saying to government 'stop him, make him keep quiet'," Zuma said.

He also held out an olive branch to the PAC, whose leader, Letlapa Mphahlele, had slammed him for his "deafening silence" on the role of PAC leaders during the struggle.

"When we say Mandela was released through the resolute struggles of our people, we include members and supporters of the PAC and Azapo," Zuma told Mphahlele.

But when he tried to defend his claim thatthe government had created 480000 jobs in the last nine months, he was drowned out by dozens of jeering MPs.

"The jobs don't replace those that must be created in the formal economy. There was a tendency in the debate to talk about these as permanent jobs. No, we were not, we were dealing with the issue to cushion poor people from the recession," Zuma claimed.