F.W. de Klerk is the chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation, a consortium of former heads of state providing confidential peer to peer advice to governments around the world. His illustrious career included serving over two decades in the South African parliament, his tenure as president of South Africa, and receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Less than five months following his election as president in 1989, Mr. de Klerk announced on worldwide television his dramatic decision to release Nelson Mandela from prison and to legalize the previously banned African National Congress and Communist Party. These decisions led to South Africa’s first-ever multi-racial elections in 1994, resulting in the election of Mandela as the country’s president. By the time his term in office had ended, Mr. de Klerk had overturned every remaining discriminatory apartheid law in South Africa. His leadership earned him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, and he and Mandela were also named TIME Magazine’s Men of the Year.
In 1994, Mr. de Klerk assumed the post of deputy president in the National Unity Government, and worked with Mandela in drafting the country’s new constitution and continuing the peaceful path of political reform. He resigned as deputy president in 1996, and remained in Parliament as head of the National Party until 1997.
In 1999, he published his autobiography, The Last Trek - A New Beginning. In addition to chairing the Global Leadership Foundation, he also runs the F.W. de Klerk Foundation, which works to promote democracy in South Africa and other multi-cultural societies.
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012
10 am to 11 am: STUDENT PEACE SUMMIT ON ENGAGING YOUTH IN WORLD PEACE: Developing Peace Leadership Skills in Students at Baker Prairie Middle School, Canby, Oregon. The WPI will work with the school’s teachers to produce a curriculum to teach about President De Klerk in the Oregon school system and a special report will be issued on the child soldier tragedy in the world. Also invited will be other students from other school peace clubs.
2 pm to 4 pm: UNIVERSITY PANEL ON LEADERSHIP FOR ENDING CONFLICT; Hosted by the University of Portland (Contact Fr. Claude Pomerleau); President De Klerk and 3 University Presidents/Officials will discuss new ideas on preventing war and ending specific conflicts. Gary Alan Spanovich, WPI Executive Director will moderate the panel. Location will be at the University of Portland. The Panel will discuss “where will the leadership come from to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and end the Korean War” and other conflict issues.
5:00 pm to 5:20 pm: VIP Reception for sponsors; Oregon Historical Society.
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm: NOBEL LECTURE BY PRESIDENT DE KLERK (Co-Hosted by the First Congregational United Church of Christ; 1126 SW Park Avenue, Portland). President De Klerk will deliver a Nobel Lecture on contemporary peace issues in the US and in South Africa followed by a Question & Answer session. Tickets are $20 each and will be available for purchase in the Church office at 1137 SW Broadway after Christmas; discount to church members. Contact Rev. Anton DeWet (503-228-7219 or antonuccportland.aol.com) for more information or to order tickets for Christmas.
7:15 pm to 9:00 pm: WPI PEACE DINNER ON ELIMINATING NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND PRESIDENT DE KLERK’S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP FORUM: “One Person’s Decisions Can Affect The Lives of Millions”; the WPI’s annual fundraising dinner; Downtown Portland Hilton Hotel; President De Klerk will describe how and why South Africa gave up its nuclear weapons and what motivated President De Klerk to make this decision. The dinner with be at the downtown Hilton; tickets are $100 each and $1000 for a table of ten. Email
One Of De Klerks Speech's At The Wholistic Peace Institutes Noble Peace Laureate Forum
February 29th , 2012
F. W. de Klerk – Portland Oregon
Commissioner Amanda Fritz sharing a message from Portland Mayor Sam Adams:
Good evening, it’s my privileged to read the proclamation that Mayor Sam Adams signed today;
Thank you and it’s an honor to be here tonight. It’s an honor to have spent the day with President de Klerk today. Also would like to acknowledge both foundations and sponsors:
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for a very warm welcome in cold Portland. The warmth of the welcome and the friendship that my wife and I have experienced since our arrival makes up for the cold and the wetness. Its quite an extraordinary day, I mean it's not every year that we have a 29th of February and its not often that a day is dedicated to me. Thank you for the honor bestowed upon me. *Applause*
Its also not a regular event that I am in a distant part of the United States if you regard lets say Washington as more or less the center, welcomed in Afrikaans by a Reverend coming from South Africa serving in this beautiful church. And also its special because I haven’t spoken in a church for a long time, although I am a regular churchgoer. Thank you for a warm welcome. Ladies and Gentlemen, I will be addressing you on, the title of my speech is: “decisions that build peace in an unpredictable world”. History is full of pivotal moments when a decision one way or the other has sent events in a dramatically different direction. How would Europe have developed during the 19th century had Napoleon not decided to invade Russia? What would have happened if the victorious allies had not imposed such a crippling peace treaty on the Germans at Versailles after the First World War?
How would the world look today if a hardliner instead of Mikhail Gorbachev had succeeded to the leadership of the Soviet Union in the early 80’s? This is interesting speculation but it is all water under the historical bridge. The challenge is to identify the pivotal issues, the issues that confront us today, and to ensure that now we take the right decisions to build a peaceful and a sustainable future. 25 years ago, we South Africans, were confronted with the need to make critical and pivotal decisions. By the beginning of the 80’s it was becoming increasingly clear to many of us in the leadership positions in the South Africa’s ruling National party that we were on the wrong course. We were becoming more and more isolated from the international community with each year that passed. The great majority of black South Africans were increasingly adamant in their rejection of our policies. As a result, we had become trapped in a downward spiral of resistance and repression that threatened at some stage in the not too distance future to erupt into full-scale conflict. We were looking a form of catastrophe in the eyes. All of this was having an increasingly damaging effect on our economy, and was threatening to shut down the engine of economic growth that was and remains our best hope of bringing all our people a better life. My colleagues in the national party and I spent a great deal of time identifying our problems, and wrestling with the need for fundamental change. In open and often brutally frank discussions we examined the hard and unpalatable facts that confronted us. We also struggled with the question of what was right and what was wrong within the framework of our values. What I supported when I was a young man, was not the suppression of black people, was full rights and justice for all the black people in South Africa but through the nation state concept. We tried to do in South Africa what the whole world now say is the right solution for Israel and Palestine. To bring full political rights for all through the concept of nation states. But we failed for many reasons. Those reasons is subject matter for a speech on its own. We failed to bring justice. And at the end of the 70s and in the early 80s not only I but also my fellow leaders in the national party realized that through our own actions and history has learned that we've landed in a place that was morally unjustifiable, that we had to change. And this lead to at the end of the 80s, when I became president. To a situation where we decided to take initiatives which would ensure justice, for all in South Africa. To take initiatives which would ensure full political rights for everybody. But also to take initiatives which would lead to a stable new South Africa. We could have clung to power for two or more decades, but we also knew that with every passing year our situation would become more desperate and our options more limited. We did have genuine concerns about embarking on a process that would lead inevitably to our losing power. We struggled with the question with what would become of the right of my people, the Afrikaners, to the national self-determination that had been the central theme of our history for almost 200 years, that had lead us to fight a debilitating 3-year war against Great Britain when they annexed the two Afrikaner republics. We struggled with the question how could we be sure that change in South Africa would not lead to the chaos and the tyranny that had unhappily accompanied the independence of so many African countries to the north of us. Neither could we ignore the strategic threat posed by the Soviet Union and the influence of the South African communist party in the African National Congress. Shortly referred to as the ANC. We knew that nearly all the members of the ANC's National executive committee were also members of the South African Communist party. We knew that South African Communist party leaders controlled key functions within the ANC alliance, most notably its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. We knew that the South African Communist Party proposed a two-phased revolution. A national liberation phase that would include all forces opposed to apartheid during which the ANC would be the vanguard party. But then a second democratic dealer liberation phase, that would culminate under leadership of the South African Communist Party. In the achievement of what they call the democratic revolution and the establishment of a people’s democracy. They wanted a communist state and it was firmly their goal to achieve it, by using, also, the ANC. This was after all the classic formula that had been successfully followed in the Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions. Former South African governments did not feel that they were under any moral obligation to accept the one man one vote process that would quickly lead to the demise of democracy and the establishment of a totalitarian communist regime, as had already happened in a number of neighboring states. And let me assure you ladies and gentlemen, when I emphasize the communist threat, itsit's not a question of "reds under beds". The communist threat was very real. The contest between the free world and the Soviet Bloc was taking place through third world liberation struggles. One of the main battlegrounds was southern Africa, where South African forces had until as late as the end of 1987 been involved in large scale battles with Cuban and Soviet lead forces in Angola. We knew that we had to take decisions that would affect the future of our country and our people, and our families, for generations to come. We knew that we have reached the stage to make pivotal decisions. But we also knew that we would have to take this decisions in the context of a rapidly changing environment. By the end of 1989, the situation in the world and in South Africa had changed, and had begun to create circumstances that were conducive for transformation. By 1987 all the significant parties involved in the South African conflict have come to accept that there could be neither a military nor a revolutionary victory. They also knew that continuing conflict would simply turn South Africa into a wasteland. Economic growth from the 60s onwards had brought about significant economic and social changes. Between 1970 and 1994, the black share of disposable income increased from 28,9% to almost 50%. Millions of black South Africans moved to the cities and improved their standard of living and education. By 1989, when I became president they had begun to occupy key positions in the industrial and commercial sections. Increasingly they were becoming indispensable in the white-collar professions. By 1994, there were more black South Africans at university than whites. Similar changes were taking place in the white Afrikaner community, in the hearts and minds of my people. In the decades following 1960, a whole generation of young Afrikaners moved from the working class to the middle class. They graduated from university and traveled abroad. And were inevitably influenced by global values. They no longer shared the fiery nationalism of their parents and grandparents. And by the early 80s they were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with apartheid. By 1989 they were ripe for change. Another factor which was helpful was the tripartite agreement between South Africa, Cuba, and Angola reached in 1988. It lead to the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola, the implementation of United Nations resolution 435, and the independence of Namibia. The negotiations and successful implementation of the United Nations independence plan during 1989 reassured the South African government that it could secure its core interests through negotiations with its opponents. And then the final and critically important factor was the collapse of global communism at the end of the 1980s. The coming down of the Berlin wall. At the stroke, it removed the governments primary strategic concern. The demise of international communism, and the manifest success of free market economies also meant that there was no longer any serious debate with regard to the economic policies that would be required to ensure economic growth in a future, fully democratic South Africa. Ladies and gentlemen by the time I became president in September 1989, the national party was already committed to fundamental transformation. However the collapse of the Soviet Union enabled us to accelerate the process. We learned that when history opens a window of opportunity it is wise to see it and to jump through it. It might close on you again. *Applause*
We knew that the circumstances for a reasonable constitutional settlement would never again be so favorable. So we jumped. And looking back, I believe we took the right decision. South Africa is now a functioning, nonracial democracy. We have experienced steady economic growth since 1994. Relations between our communities are good, and we are once again a respected member of the international community. Against this background, using us as an example, the question I would like to discuss tonight, is how can leaders, like President Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy possibly know what decisions to take to maintain peace and to assure sustainable growth in our rapidly changing world. How can they know whether their decisions will lead to desired outcomes, or whether they will culminate in failure? Predicting the future is a difficult business at the best of times. The Greek oracles understood this, and were usually careful to couch their prognostications in ambiguous terms, so that whatever the outcome they could claim to have been right. Thus, their advice to Curse that if he invaded Persia he would overthrow a great empire proved to be true. The trouble was that the empire that this invasion overthrew was his own. The oracle of Delphi was however operating in fairly predictable times. Because there was so little change. Technology hardly developed from one century to the next during the middle Iron Age, only a tiny number of new publications appeared each year. Now, the sum of total, the sum total of technological knowledge doubles every two or three years. We are confronted with new technologies faster than we can ever hope to absolve the old ones that we cast away. Change is accelerating. Change is fundamental, and unfortunately change is unpredictable. The world in which we live, ladies and gentlemen, today is dominated by factors that no one imagined a mere 25 years ago. If anyone in 1985 had predicted that within 7 years the Soviet Union would have collapse, Eastern Europe would be liberated, and Germany would be reunited, all the greatest pundits of the era would have called that person mad. Nobody identified the looming threat from radical Islamic terrorists. Nobody foretold the coming of the PC revolution, the Internet and cell phones. Yet all these developments occurred in a short span of time and have fundamentally changed our lives. Under these circumstances prediction is virtually impossible. Ironically, the best pointers to the future might lie in the broader factors that have driven the history of mankind in the past. The first of these factors is climate change. Mankind really came to the fore when it had to survive recurrent ice ages, the last of which ended a mere 12,000 years ago. 74,000 years ago, the eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra created a six-year winter that some experts believe might have reduced the human population to only twelve thousand individuals. Today, we are confronted with growing evidence of global warming, which if left unchecked could contribute to catastrophic climate change. Regardless of whether or not mankind is primarily responsible for this phenomenon, one thing is clear. The present rate and the nature of human development is unsustainable. There are simply too many of us and too few resources to go around. Whatever else happens, future human development will take place within a framework that will be dictated by our deteriorating environment. The environment might well prove to be the single most important determinant of our future during the coming century. The second factor that will determine our future will be demographics. Much of human history has been determined by the movement of people. The first successful migrations from Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago lead to the population of most of the planet, to the extinction of our main competitors the Neanderthals, and in effect, to the beginning of history. Much of mankind’s history during the past 3,000 years has been driven by migrations. Migrations of tribes from Central Asia against the ramparts of the Roman Empire. Migrations of the Huns and the Mongols across the Eurasian landmass. And the huge migrations from Europe after the 16th century, which dramatically changed the history and demography of much of the planet. Now once again, in our globalized world, people are on the move. Populations in many parts of the first world have started to shrink. People are living longer and longer with fewer and fewer productive workers to sustain them. Either the retirement age will have to be raised or more skilled immigrants will have to be recruited. All this means that populations everywhere are becoming more and more mixed. The days of the single ethnic group nations states are gone. One of the central challenges in the emerging multicultural world will be the accommodation of diversity, the management of diversity. Large parts of the United States Southwest will soon have Spanish speaking majorities. How will the United States, with its traditionally unilingual consensus, deal with this challenge? Already, nearly all the conflicts in the world are within countries, and not between countries, within countries between ethnic, cultural and religious communities. There are now very few wars between countries. Perhaps the greatest single threat to our security comes from unresolved clashes between liberal and Western materialism and fundamental Islam. It lies at the root of the threat posed by al-Qaeda and is at the heart of the allied fear that if left unchecked, the Taliban will recapture Afghanistan and pose a threat to Western security. The correct management of religious and cultural diversity will be one of the key challenges during the coming decades. This also has far reaching implications for the security challenges that the West will have to face during coming decades. It will still be necessary for the United States and Europe to maintain strong military forces, and to be able to project them to any part of the world when crises arise. However the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan will, one hopes, be learned. NATO's reluctance to become involved in ground operations in the recent fighting in Libya, and to get involved in any way in the current uprising in Syria, are indications of how much strategic doctrines are already beginning to change. The West will in future do everything it can to avoid prolonged involvement in ground struggles in countries where its core interests are not involved. It is simply not possible for western democracies to sustain lengthy campaigns in foreign countries in the full blare of the omnipresent media. Local civilians will inevitably be killed. So will western soldiers. Each British death in Afghanistan now receives more media coverage than the deaths of thousands of men in a single hour of a First World War battle. Nor should the West try to recreate quite different societies in its own liberal democratic image. I believe other strategies should be followed, including the lessening of dependence on oil from the Middle East, and the intensified search for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. Yet another factor which has traditionally driven human history is technology. Indeed we describe the various phases through which we have progressed as mankind in terms of the technology that they use. Hence the Neolithic age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. The Steam Age, the Atom Age. And now, the Information Age. Each new technology, the further expansion of the Internet and information technology, nanotechnology and our ability to decode the human genome, can have fundamental implications for the future of mankind. What will the implications be for society for politics and the economy, if emerging technologies succeed in increasing life expectations by another ten or twenty years? What impact will the electronic media have for traditional print media and for advertising? This geometric expansion of human knowledge and of technology leaves us increasingly with one disturbing conclusion: virtually anything is possible. A fourth historic determinant has been the competition between different systems of organizing human society. If there was any point to the long and tragic story of war and conflict, it may have been to illustrate which approach to government works best in beating its rivals and in promoting the interests of its citizens. The question should not be what factors caused the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, but what systemic factors enabled it to last for a thousand years. Certainly its system of law and military organization played important roles. The question should also be asked, how do relatively small European powers Britain and the Netherlands manage to conquer far wealthier and popular societies in Asia from the 17th century onwards? An important part of the answer may be found in the fact that by the end of the 17th century, both countries, Britain and Holland, had successfully limited the power of their governments. Limited it to arbitrarily interfere with the freedom and property of the emerging middle class. This meant that merchants could mobilize resources for the pursuit of trading ventures, without the fear that their spotty governments would seize a disproportionate part of their profits, or interfere too onerously with their activities. Chinese and Indian merchants at that time did not enjoy similar advantages. During the last century ladies and gentlemen there were further cataclysmic struggles between societies with different systems. Between the western democracies on the one hand and the despotic racism of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan on the other. And subsequently between the western democracies and communist totalitarianism, in both struggles the free societies emerged victorious. By the 90s, the victory of the American model was so complete, that Francis Fukuyama was able to proclaim, and I quote, “the end of history”. After so many centuries of struggle, mankind he believed had finally found the right formula for governance. Liberal democracy and free markets. However, ladies and gentlemen, history never ends. We have moved into a new era. An era that is still reeling from the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009. And that is characterized by increasing doubt about what people call the Washington consensus and the accepted wisdom of the 90s. A number of western democracies are experiencing serious problems with their social democratic model. They are discovering that countries simply cannot keep pumping out social benefits without producing the wealth to finance them. The result inevitably is bankruptcy. The larger the role of government in catering to the social needs of people, the less scope there is of the productive sectors of the economy. In the 18th century, rulers lavished the taxes of the productive sector of the economy on glorious palaces and conspicuous consumption. They now spend such taxes on ostensibly praiseworthy social programs administered and regulated by armies of bureaucrats. The disempowering effect on the productive sector is however often much the same. The question is, how many federal bureaucrats lost their job in the recent economic downturn? According to the CATO institute, in the year 2000 the average federal civilian compensation was $76,000 compared with private sector compensation of $45,700 dollars. By 2008, the income of the federal workers had climbed to 120,000 dollars, more than double that of the private sector workers. Do modern democracies really need all these bureaucrats? In the 1820s, Britain, the superpower of the time, ran its global foreign policy with a foreign secretary and support staff of fewer than 20 clerks moreover, a reply was dispatched within 24 hours to every letter received. I mention this because one of the dominant factors during the coming decades will be growing competition between the emerging Asian giants, China and India on the one hand and the USA and Europe on the other. This will not be a violent competition between armies and air forces, it will be an equally deadly competition in world markets, for customers and for resources. And once again the outcome will identify the social, political, and economic system that is best able to prevail and to promote the interests of its people. After four decades of stagnation in the dead end street of Maoist communism, the Chinese leadership finally noticed that their countrymen in Hong Kong and Taiwan were outperforming most of the rest of the world in achieving spectacular economic growth. They must have seen that Hong Kong had one of the freest economies in the world with minimal state interference. And maximum decision making in the hands of producers and consumers. They must also have noted that although it was economically free, Hong Kong was not politically free. It was still a British colony. So maybe it would be possible they thought for the Chinese communist party to stay in control while liberalizing the economy at the same time. The rest, we know is history. Similarly, at the end of the 80s, after three decades of independence, India finally managed to break free from the straight jacked of congress socialism. It is also reaping the benefits of dazzling economic growth. All this is presenting the United States and Europe with a seminal challenge. Will its social and economic model be able to compete with a challenge from India and China? If not, what will the consequences be? If the West decides to take on the challenge, what will it has to do to ensure the success of its system? It is unlikely that there will be any painless solution. The question is this: Will western democracies be able to take the pain of competing with the new Asian giants? Everything I have been trying to get across, ladies and gentlemen, boils down to one thing. We have reached a moment in history where pivotal decisions are necessary. Where your leaders and the leaders of the developed countries will have to make choices, which might be painful.
To sum up, I believe that trust as we South Africans had to take difficult, and crucial decisions regarding our future in the early 90s, western leaders will have to make crucial decisions on the challenges that confront their countries now. They will have to decide, how they are going to deal with present unsustainable patterns of development. They will have to confront the simple fact that the planet will not be able to support 8 billion people who will be living here in 14 years from now. Particularly if global warming leads to harvest failures. They will have to decide how they are going to deal with the results of democratic changes. How will they manage their increasingly culturally diverse societies? What will they do about the waves of illegal immigrants from third world countries? How will they support and care for their aging populations? They will have to manage the unpredictable impact of new technologies. These technologies have the capacity to accelerate fundamental changes that have been taking place in society regarding how we work where we work how we will be entertained how we live and for how long we will live. Finally, they will have to decide whether the societies have the will and have the ability to meet the gathering challenge from Asia. Each of the decisions they take in these important areas could be pivotal for the future peace and sustainable progress of their countries and the world. Ladies and gentlemen there is no end to history. As my compatriots in the ANC like to put it, the struggle continues, and always will. Thank you very much. *Applause*
Thank you, President de Klerk, we are asking, if you still have questions, send them to the middle, it is no guarantee that we will get to all the questions. Mr. de Klerk assured me that he enjoys taking questions and he even enjoys a curve ball once or twice. Now that kind of threw me because I didn't know he knew about curve balls. We don't play baseball in South Africa. We play rugby, and cricket. So I have the first question that I would like to pose to the President de Klerk, from Arif Humayun from the Circle of Peace, "How do you create trust, where none exists? And this refers specifically to the conflicts in the Middle East, south Asia, and even South Africa, where the Truth and Reconciliation commission did not deliver the outcome that everybody expected."
De Klerk: There is no pat recipe for how to create trust. But let me share with you a few lessons I think we've learned from our experience of negotiation. When we started out there was deep mistrust between the sides, which had been fighting each other for so long. The first lesson we learned and which we implemented was "remove the obstacles to negotiation." Take an initiative. Don’t say, “I will do this, if you will do that.” Put the package together. And that’s what I did on the 2nd of February 1990. Announcing many more things than what was expected. Everybody was just saying, will I announce that Nelson Mandela will be released. I announced that he and all political prisoners would be released. I announced that all organizations which were banned are un-banned, they can come back. I announced that the state of emergency is lifted. We put together a package which robbed the ANC of any excuse they might have had not to come to the table to say “Okay it’s good and well that you’ve done this and that, but what about this and what about that.” We covered it all. That created moral high ground. *Applause* And then President Mandela a few months after his release, took an initiative, which was not negotiated. Which helped to build trust. Unilaterally he announced, the ANC will suspend the armed struggle. That created trust. Again, which was solely absent in our hearts, until he announced that. First lesson is, do something, take an initiative. Which can begin to break down the prejudices and the problems and the fears and the anxieties. Secondly. We learned that when you start talking, start by finding out on what do you agree. In the very first negotiations between us and the ANC, we started making a list of basic departure points. And found that we agreed about much more than we thought we agreed upon. I remember Mbeki then saying, that was before he became President but he was one of the main negotiators, we found out that we did not have forked tails, and that we weren’t the devils that we made each other out to be until then. So we followed that pattern throughout the negotiation. And that is building trust. You say, okay, let’s agree upon this. And we shoved the more difficult things down the agenda. We’ll come to that later. And then we reached, in the negotiations, a point of no return. Where we’ve agreed upon so much that it would be actually a sin, it would be madness to stop there because we can’t reach agreement upon the outstanding points. And we then focused and bit by bit brought down, shortened the list of outstanding points, until there were about ten points left. And then the negotiators came to me and Nelson Mandela and said “On these ten points, the two of you must now agree.” And we had a full one day meeting, we agreed upon it, by give and take, and we reached a workable compromise. Thirdly *applause* Thirdly, if one party to a negotiation seeks an absolute victory, there can never be trust. And I said it at earlier locations today, let me say it to this audience. The essential element for successful negotiation is that you on your side of the table should put yourselves in the shoes of the man sitting opposite you, your opponent. Try to understand what their main concerns are, what is really fundamentally important to them, and try to find a way to make proposals which can accommodate those concerns. And if they do the same with you, then suddenly trust develops. And this is what happened between me and Mandela and between the teams from both sides. Trust building is the starting point for successful negotiations. Thank you for the question *applause*
President de Klerk, what influence can you exert on today’s problems in South Africa, example AIDS, political corruption, gang violence, child slavery. This comes from Ross Baker, Erzhausen , Germany.
There is one there which rings a false note for me and that is child slavery. We don’t have child slavery. In South Africa. Not to the extent that you find it in India for instance. Yes, we have, now and then, young people dropping out of school before the age of sixteen even, against the law, being employed. But it’s not a pattern, it’s not a general pattern. Farm workers belong to trade unions, they have rights, their rights are protected, there are minimum wages in our legislation. Our labor dispensation is basically a fair one, and some of these accusations about child slavery and so on, is used by our economic opponents to vilify our products, and to compete better against us with exports. So, I don’t agree with the factual basis that there is child slavery in South Africa. But yes, the other problems raised, there is rampant.. corruption. We have the highest incident of HIV AIDS. 35% unemployment. It’s terrible. We face big challenges in this regard. The government is putting plans on the table to address these issues. Some of them are good plans. They fail at implementation however, quite regularly. They fail at implementation because they in an unbalanced way implemented affirmative action, and thus lost too many experienced managers in the civil service too soon. Before new ones were trained. I’m in favor of affirmative action in South Africa. To rectify the wrongs of the past. But if it’s done in an unbalanced way it has the opposite effect of what it is intended to have. It has resulted in the deterioration of services. So how do you address it? As you do in any democratic society. Firstly, through the political process. Opposition parties can use failures on the government to strengthen their power base. This has resulted in the last general election, in the ANC losing it’s 2/3 majority. It has resulted in the main opposition party controlling the western province, one of the provinces of South Africa. The party political process is important. But, if you have a party having 65% of the vote, it’s still not a healthy democracy. It’s too much power concentrated in the hands of one party. What will happen, is, a political realignment. A split in the ANC. In the ANC have been brought together, far left socialists, true red communists, pragmatists, people who have become convinced that basic free market principles is the only way to achieve economic growth which we need to address our unemployment. The cement which brought these people with such divergent views together was to end apartheid. And to gain power. That cement is gone. Apartheid is gone. And we will normalize our party political situation, rather according to values and no longer based on race. Rather according to according to policies and principles instead of old historical divisions. But, in such a relatively unhealthy democracy, civil society is fundamentally important. And we have a vibrant civil society in South Africa. And on many occasions in the past 5 years especially, civil society has stood up, and built up the necessary constructive solution orientated resistance to ill conceived policies, that they succeeded in getting the government to step back from ill conceived policies, to reconsider their position, and to adopt better balanced policies instead of it. So yes, we have big problems. The ANC government is admitting these problems. It has promised to clamp down on corruption. We.. It has successfully changed how we deal with HIV AIDS. We have moved away from the period in which under president Mbeki there was almost denial of the seriousness of the problem. It is now fully admitted. The number of people getting antiretroviral drugs are multiplying by the day. The cost of those drugs have been brought down successfully. There’s also good news, it’s not just bad news. *Applause*
Mr. President, question from Courtney Campbell, from Portland. Are there any options or actions that South Africa or the international community could take, to mitigate the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe?
I’m sure there are such actions, but unfortunately thus far, not many of such actions have come to the fore or have come to fruition. Millions of Africans, of all colors and races, are frustrated by the lack of sufficient and efficient pressure, on Zimbabweans to get their house in order. It was a successful, dynamic country. It has been driven into the ground, its economy has been destroyed. I had sympathy always for President Mbeki, when he said we must take the diplomatic route, we must talk to them. Because, after all, should South Africa send it’s army in and take Zimbabwe over? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be in favor of that. The only ways is to convince the leadership, the broader leadership in Zimbabwe that they must go and sit around a table and sort out their differences. But, in his handling of it, if I could use a metaphor, there was too much velvet in the glove and too little iron in the fist. He was too soft on them. I also believe that President Zuma is on this aspect doing better than President Mbeki. And he has succeeded in building a coalition between him and fellow leaders in southern Africa, to take a stronger stance against what is going wrong in Zimbabwe. So there is some improvement. But in the final analysis, the culture of respect for elderly leaders, and Mugabe we must remember, was next to Mandela the most important freedom fighter leader of.. liberation leader in the whole of sub-Sahara Africa in the past 30 years or so. There is immense respect for him, and therefore hesitation, to undermine his position. He’s old. He’s on the verge, I believe, of retirement. And I think, when he goes, Zimbabwe will reach its moment of truth. Where they will have to sit around a table and forge a new approach to rebuild their country. *Applause*
Mr. President this comes from one of our fellow South Africans Stevan Bester, from Middleburg, South Africa. What future do you see for Afrikaners in the nw South Africa with affirmative action in place?
De Klerk: I think the worst is over, of the unbalanced affirmative action. There is a realization that South Africa needs all the talents available to it. That it needs more engineers, that there’s a grave shortage of highly and well skilled people, that there’s an over supply of semi and unskilled labor. But I think the future of the Afrikaner lies also in a change of course by the Afrikaners. By that, I mean, they used to form the backbone of the civil service. This has changed, will continue to change. They must seek their security and their prosperity in becoming more entrepreneurial in their approach to life. By using their talents, and developing the talents of their kids and their youngsters, to make it on their own by being and becoming entrepreneurs. By going into the private sector. By creative activity, creating businesses. And it is happening. It is happening, on average there is a small problem, relatively, in numbers. Of a percentage of white South Africans, Afrikaners and English speaking ones, becoming very poor. But, on balance, with all the affirmative action and with all the negatives which have befallen them, things are going quite well, and we are beginning to see the return of émigrés. Of people who left for New Zealand, Australia, America. In growing numbers, with the international economic crunch now. They are returning to South Africa, and are playing a constructive role. I am not despondent. I have three children, they are all in South Africa. I am not for one moment considering advising them to leave. I think they can make it. *Applause*
Mr. de Klerk maybe on a point of privilege as moderator, may I ask you a personal question on this point? Why would I send my two children back to South Africa, one is an engineer one is a CPA, risking their lives in a country where most of us have lost friends and loved ones to murder and rape?
De Klerk: The crime situation is unacceptable. It is improving. Firstly my short reply is the pendulum has swung, it is improving. The police force is being made more effective, and are in actual fact becoming more effective. Secondly, I would like to say that our crime statistics, if you were to keep it again on the basis of racial color, it is a wrong perception that murders and rapes of whites are out of proportion to the average figures which apply in England and apply in some European countries and elsewhere. The real big figures come from what happen in the shanty towns. If you take those statistics, the percentage of the population living there and the percentage of rapes and murders and serious injuries being sustained in attacks, person on person. The real big statistics come from the black community living in the shanty towns under unacceptable circumstances. And those shanty towns are growing. Since apartheid is dead there are more shanty towns. I’m not saying that to justify apartheid. It’s an economic thing. In the rural areas, there’s no work. People are flocking to the cities. They leave their families in the rural areas and the men would come, that’s one of the reasons for the spread of HIV AIDS, would come without the wife, without the children. Would come and take temporary jobs, live in a little shack. Put up with cardboard or whatever. He can lift it up when it’s sickened. Temporary job is 6 miles away. He just lifts it up and goes to another shanty town there. It’s unacceptably socially and that is where most of the murders occur. I think in South Africa if you are careful you are not really more unsafe than you are in many other parts of the developed world itself. We haven’t had, and I’m saying this with great empathy, we haven’t had a school shooting, in the past year that I know of. You’ve had it here. No country is immune. If you have vast percentages of unemployed people, it’s the feeding ground for crime. The real solution lies in economic development. And this is a reply to the marches you have through your streets about people who march against.. against the banks and against business. I’m not saying business should not reform itself. I’m not saying that they are angels. But we all need each other. And without investment there can not be economic growth. And without an investment friendly environment, there will not be investment. And the solution, the medium and long term solution of our unacceptably high crime levels lies in economic and social development. *Applause*
Thank you President de Klerk. I think I’ll vote for you again. *Laughter* Ladies and gentlemen, these were the questions. I think we covered about five. And we’re out of time.
De Klerk: “Three more.”
We have more time. The President says go.
Mr. President what common mistakes and or misperceptions have you observed people make that impede our progress towards more constructive dialogue and world peace? By Victoria Clevinger.
I would say one of the biggest obstacles to constructive dialogue and peacemaking lies in isms. All the isms.. are wrong. Communism. Capitalism. All the isms, have one thing in common. It takes certain truths, and it says, “This is the absolute truth”. And it ignores other truths because it does not fit the theory. And there is no such thing on this earth, there is an absolute truth I believe as a Christian, but there is no absolute truth about how to organize a society. And I believe that capitalism contains vast elements of the right recipe for a good and stable and prosperous society. But capitalism overdone can be harmful to many people. I believe in socialism there are good elements. But we’ve seen the dismal failure of socialism where the ism becomes so strong that it becomes an absolute. We see it in the old Eastern Europe where every state has failed, including Russia. So isms, to my mind, ah, and then in religion. Fanaticism, which enters religion. The moment fanaticism enters religion whether it’s Islam, whether it’s Christian fanaticism. It takes you on the wrong path. And it becomes a stumbling block to people understanding each other. It becomes a stumbling block to people talking to each other. So, that’s my short answer. I could make a whole speech about that question. *Applause*
From John Feit in Vancouver, a question that we often get as expatriates, Mr. President. Did the movie Invictus properly describe the role of sports, rugby in uniting the people of South Africa?
Yes, yes, yes. It was a glorious moment. And it was brilliance, a stroke of brilliance by Nelson Mandela. We must remember The ANC did not want our rugby national team to be called Springboks anymore. They actually did not want the Springbok there and they did not want the green and yellow to continue. And Mandela stood up against his own party and donned a springbok jersey with a springbok here *points to chest* and walked onto the field. Now Invictus, quite correctly, sort of encapsulates a wonderful moment where we rose above all our differences and where we took hands. And again now, the soccer world cup, which we so successfully presented. Sport once again played a role of bringing all South Africans together. It shows what can be done. *Applause*
Mr. de Klerk, are you Western Province or Northern Transvaal supporter?
“I’m still a Blue Bull (note: Northern Transvaal) although I live in the cape.”
Thank you. I’ll vote for you again, that’s for sure. Very last question. From Jason Hawkem, Newberg Oregon. Are you concerned that the current economic conditions in South Africa will have a negative impact on race relations in South Africa?
De Klerk: My reply would be yes, but. Yes I am concerned. If you analyze the breakdown of the 35% unemployment rate. And if you then look at the category young blacks between 18 and 34 years of age. More than 50% of them are unemployed. And that is a bomb on which South Africa is sitting. What do young people with energy, who dropped out of school too soon, because our education system is not in a good state, it has actually deteriorated over the past 15 years, they are not properly educated. They are not trained for any job. They have time on their hands. They have energy. They are frustrated. Yes, I am concerned. But.. The but is, South Africa’s economic growth potential is tremendous. Only in 2008 did we not register positive economic growth. We are back about 3,2%, what would so many other countries give for that? Not enough for our purpose, we really need 6% in real terms, economic growth, in order to begin to successfully address the unemployment. Government has now announced tremendous infrastructural investment plans. New roads, repair of old roads, dams, electricity is.. there’s a shortage. New power stations are being built, we are spending billions, many billions on infrastructure development which will have an immediate impact within the next year or two. On the unemployment situation. We have been following and are continuing to follow well-balanced macroeconomic policies. Which are investor friendly. We are attracting investment. There has been a hesitation, but since the ANC leadership has put Malema, who pleaded for nationalization of our mines, in his place, and disciplined him, and suspended his membership, I think that hesitation has dissipated. South Africa is a country of opportunity. Let me give you one statistic to understand it. With less than 7% of the population in sub-Sahara Africa, we produce about 36% of the GDP of Sub-Sahara Africa. What the United States is in the world, South Africa is in Africa. It’s a country with vast potential. And I’m confident that we are going to overcome our difficulties, and that we will fulfill that potential. You’ve been a wonderful audience, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Everything all the best. *Applause and standing ovation*
Ladies and gentlemen if you could just take your seats we have a very humble presentation we’d like to make, I’d like to ask Mrs. Marguerite Oliver to come forward, and uh hinds a de vet. And Mrs. de Klerk would you like to join us please. I nearly forgot the most important person here. Now, on behalf of the community gathered here this evening, President and Mrs. de Klerk, we have something that I know will fit into your luggage and won’t add to the weight as you fly back, but we hope it will be a reminder of warm hearts and lovely people, for that Portlandians simply are. It comes from the heart and we give this to you with all of our love. Now from the South Africans sitting here in the audience, we have something, uh now Mrs. de Klerk I think President de Klerk told me uh because you are of Greek uh uh origin, thank you, my congregation does the same thing you see, because you are of Greek origin you don’t speak Afrikaans yet. But I have sympathy for that, because I’ve been 20 years in the United States, and I still can’t speak American. *Laughter* we have something in common. But two words I’m sure you know, the women baked you some real boerewors cake and (soot or sweet?) koeksisters. Now, if that doesn’t allow in your diet plans, I saw your security guys. They look like they hungry. Please enjoy it, it comes with lots of love from us. Thank you very much. *Applause*
I’d like to invite everybody that find world peace a goal that they’d like to pursue to stand as we join in a song that so many of us know, especially us with a grayer hair, as we sing together “We shall overcome”. Please stand, and you’re free to hold hands.
*Attendees hold hands and sing song*
Thank you, thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you President, Mrs. de Klerk, *speaking in Afrikaans* Thank you very much, God bless.