Can parliament stop inviting FW de Klerk to events? Apparently not without 'careful considerations'

Former president FW de Klerk has come under fire recently for his comments about apartheid.
Former president FW de Klerk has come under fire recently for his comments about apartheid.
Image: Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht

The ANC has called for parliament to stop inviting former apartheid president FW de Klerk to events, amid controversy surrounding him.

The ruling party has joined the EFF's call, which saw the red berets disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday when its members demanded De Klerk be ejected from the house.

SowetanLIVE reported that, at the weekend, the former president and his foundation denied apartheid was a crime against humanity, as declared by the UN in 1973.

The FW de Klerk Foundation said the UN's classification of apartheid as a crime against humanity was part of an agenda by the Soviet Union, the ANC and its allies to “stigmatise” white South Africans.

It said the former president had repeatedly acknowledged the grave injustices committed under apartheid and had apologised on a number of occasions.

However, on Monday, after receiving backlash from various political parties, De Klerk apologised and withdrew the statement issued by his foundation.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the denial spat in the face of those who suffered under de Klerk's watch.

Speaking on eNCA, Mabe said there was no way parliament could be associated with those who denied the hardships suffered by black South Africans because of the institutionalised racial segregation that existed in SA before 1994.

“It is expected that our MPs reflect on this and begin to say what do you do with individuals who knowingly go out and spit in the face of our people and want to deny that apartheid was a crime against humanity when an international body like the UN had already spoken,” Mabe said.

Parliament's deputy speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, told eNCA the calls to not invite de Klerk had no weight.

Tsenoli said De Klerk was invited to parliamentary events because he was part of the presidency, just like other former presidents.

“As parliament, our job is to invite, as we have done in the past with other former presidents, and this is what we have done.

“It's a deflection. The critical point is that [former] president De Klerk, like Thabo Mbeki, [Jacob] Zuma, [Kgalema] Motlanthe and [Nelson] Mandela when he lived, is on the list of people who are continually invited,” he said.

Tsenoli said it was not in the interest of parliament to exclude people based on what they had said.

He added that it would be difficult to exclude De Klerk without exercising “careful considerations of the criteria we would use to exclude him or any other person in future”.

Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo was not available for commentary at the time of publishing.

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