Frederik Willem de Klerk’s Political Skill


FW was the State Commander of South Africa at the end of the apartheid epoch. He was born in 1936 and was the final State Leader of the apartheid epoch. He served the country from 1989-1994. This leader is well renowned for facilitating the end of the racist rule. Apartheid was South Africa’s tribal segregation legislation. This President maintained the revolution of South Africa into a multiethnic egalitarianism. This was through getting into concessions that led to all nationals, entailing the nation’s black masses, having equivalent voting rights. Both Nelson Mandela and Frederik were given the Nobel Prize in 1993 (Karis and Carter, 1977).

Frederik was the person in charge of National Education and was also in charge of the National Party situated in Transvaal. He was not renowned to advocate for change. He had a long political profession as a conservative before joining the forces inside the ruling party. This culminated in him being chosen as leader of the National Party and later he became the State leader. As president, he discouraged a non-ethnic South Africa and instigated negotiations concerning the nation’s future. He finished the apartheid command to a great extent and initiated the plan and realization of a fresh constitution for the nation based on the decree of one individual, one vote. Some of de Klerk’s critics accused of collusion in the brutality between ANC and other forces. He was also indicted for allowing his ministers to create their illicit empires. His rule was characterized by the negotiation procedure, particularly between his administration and Mandela’s ANC. This, consequently, resulted in the democratization of South Africa. He held a conference for white people only in 1992 where he received an overpowering ‘yes’ vote to advance with his quest to curb apartheid. This paper delves into whether or not FW de Klerk illustrated great political handiness in facilitating the end of apartheid and the consequent change to democracy. The presumption in the following discourse is that de Klerk exemplified great political handiness in stopping apartheid and the democratization of South Africa. This is based on the standpoint that de Klerk’s played a critical task in the negotiation procedure in the year 1990 to 1994 (Lodge & Nasson, 1992).

De Klerk in Politics: His Political Skills

When de Klerk was elected into office, he was a novice concerning political matters. His political talent was not yet verified or tested. This explained why South Africans articulated fear that his nomination would culminate in the subjugation of Africans. This was based on the rationale that having no expertise de Klerk would easily be swayed by influences from the extreme aspects of the Nationalist Party. This would result in him not considering the needs of Africans and, also what the global community was undertaking to destroy apartheid. Following what previous regimes had done, de Klerk was born at a period when there were campaigns to eliminate Africans from the voters’ position. This was based on the fact that the rulers at the time did not see Africans as eligible to have a huge duty related to citizenship. The philosophy behind this thinking tenet was the foundation of apartheid. In addition, Hertzog who was a Minister was intimidated by the political influence that Africans were acquiring through the ANC. This consequently poised the fear that de Klerk would follow the guidance of his predecessors. This was to negate Africans from the political procedure (O’Meara, 1996).

He was introduced to anti-African politics at a tender age given that the majority of his family affiliates were in politics. He was nominated to his initial cabinet rank by Botha. As the Minister of Education, he attempted to deter Africans from enrolling on colleges that were selected for white students. Following his Afrikaner racist philosophy, De Klerk’s political skills were exemplified when he removed Botha from office by asserting that he was old, and South Africa needed efficient leadership. The fundamental rationale behind this was that de Klerk wanted to utilize Botha’s resignation to make the Nationalist Party seal ranks behind him to solve the entrenched divisions that were emerging from inside the party. He understood the quandaries facing the party and, therefore, knew that he needed to utilize Botha’s state of emergency. However, he comprehended that to continue with the emergency would bring more quandaries between him and the Africans. Understanding all these and other criticisms from his critics and observers, de Klerk had to step up in his governance to tackle this critical issue. When antagonism finally emerged from inside the National Party, De Clerk understood he had to eliminate Botha. He conspired and plotted against Botha and ultimately unseated him (Marx, 1992).

In addition, de Klerk knew that the philosophy that the safety of the whites depended significantly on the political progression of Africans. Based on this philosophy he comprehended that apartheid had to stop. With this in mind, he attempted to progress the Africans to gain political leverage. His handiness also came in when de Klerk undertook the mission to assist Africans storm the laager. He also persuaded his affiliates informing them of his tactic to solve issues in South Africa. This element of his tactic marked a critical stage in attaining his agenda. De Klerk did not want to have a similar label as that Botha carried. This is because Botha was referred to as being authoritarian in his tackling of national issues (Thompson, 2001).

De Klerk political talent was also exemplified through the support of the front line of governments and OAU which was vital to the victory of his duty. He also persuaded both the worldwide society and front line governments to promise to destroy the fundamental aspects of apartheid. This was directed towards a non-ethnic community. This helped him in earning support for his political career. Through this, he was able to eliminate apartheid and usher in the democratization of South Africa. This, however, was reckoned as a disloyalty to the fundamental standards of the Afrikaners.

De Klerk’s administration also aided the curbing of apartheid rule in South Africa through a sequence of negotiations from 1990-1993. This was via one-sided strategies by de Klerk. These negotiations occurred between the ruling National Party, the African Congress and a wide multiplicity of other political affiliations. These negotiations happened against a milieu of political institutions. The President facilitated this with his political handiness in unifying divergent parties into bringing about multiethnic nominations. These negotiations also pushed for a stage of shift with a nominated transitional administration. This also entailed marginal rights, decisions on a joint or federal government, chattel rights and insurance from the trial for politically driven offences.

The party concessions resulted in the instigation of the Peace Accord in 1991. This was meant to deal with escalated levels of brutality characterized in the mid-1990s. The Peace Accord created local and provincial multiparty peace groups which included the law enforcers, army, religious institutions, political groups and community affiliations. This was a strategy by de Klerk to reinstate tranquillity in his administration of serenity and resolution. This Accord made way towards significant negotiations in the country. This was because it was ratified by officials of political institutions, and countrywide government. This entailed the CODESA negotiations.

Another political tactic that de Klerk utilized was a structure of politics of transition. Through this, he legalized the ANC and other democratic movements. This, consequently, resulted in the acquittal of Nelson Mandela as well as his colleagues from detention. This move signified the institution of an era of negotiations aimed at achieving democracy. This era was comprised of extreme and violent clashes in South Africa. The acquittal of Nelson Mandela meant the liberation of the Africans who had been undermined for decades. It indicated a new epoch of liberty from subjugation by the minority whites. Nelson Mandela was exonerated at an epoch when there was acute cruelty in South Africa. His exoneration was a tactic to create peace and sustain political stability in de Klerk’s ruling which was using politics of transformation. The violence was expected to recede to diminish opposition from the Africans. However, the brutality did not cease but ironically escalated to high levels. This was because to solve the quandaries affecting South Africa there was the need to scrutinize and assess the fundamental causes of these issues (Kenney, 1991).


Frederik de Klerk’s regime encountered innumerable challenges in the course of attempting to introduce transition politics. All through his ruling de Klerk carefully utilized his formidable political handiness in attaining the end of apartheid and democratization to democracy. The discourse above delineates how de Klerk’s task in the concession played an enormous role in attaining apartheid. This was exemplified by his ardent unifying tactic of persuading divergent groups towards a universal cause. In addition, de Klerk utilized the reinforcement from other governments and the OAU to realize his target of creating a nonracial South African country. He was capable of swaying the global community to support his plan to end the unruly regime of apartheid. Moreover, he used widespread concessions to develop a multiparty nation which later translated into the development of the Peace Accord. This Accord attempted to address the escalated levels of brutality and racial isolation in the nation. Furthermore, he comprehended that he had to actualize the standpoint that the safety of the whites depended significantly on the political progression of Africans. This was against the elementary values of the Afrikaners which were grounded on the conviction that Africans were inferior. This meant that the Africans would be submissive and receptive to their oppressors’ rules. He also exonerated Mandela from captivity to try and pacify the situation in the country. This would have been a symbol of independence and liberty for the Africans who were the majority. These efforts and the persistent negotiations by De Klerk gave way to the new epoch of democratization in South Africa. Ethnic separation was buried in the annals of this South Africa’s account. All these achievements were facilitated by de Klerk and his ardent political handiness.

List of References

  1. Karis, T., & Carter, M., 1977, From Protest to Challenge, A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa 1882-1964, Vol. 4. Stanford University, California.
  2. Kenney, H., 1991, Pride and prejudice: The years of Afrikaner Nationalist rule in South Africa, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg.
  3. Lodge, T. & Nasson, B., 1997, All, here, and now: Black politics in South Africa in the The 1980s, Cape Town, David Phillip.
  4. Marx, A., 1992, Lessons of strAuggle: South African internal opposition, 1960-1990. Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.
  5. O’Meara, D., 1996, Forty lost years: The apartheid state and the politics of the National Party, 1948-1994, Ohio University Press, Athens.
  6. Thompson, L., 2001, A history of South Africa. 3rd edition, Yale University Press, New Haven/London.
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