25 Years Since 2 February 1990:
A Quarter Century of Building and Defending Non-racial Constitutional Democracy
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
I am delighted to share once again in marking the anniversary of that watershed moment in South Africa’s history; the 2nd of February 1990 speech of former President FW de Klerk.
I must thank Mr de Klerk, and Mrs Elita de Klerk, for all that they continue to do for our nation through the FW de Klerk Foundation. I know well that patriotism never retires. The love of country that resides in Mr de Klerk’s heart will no doubt continue to produce a valuable contribution towards the building and defending of a non-racial constitutional democracy.
Today it is a particular pleasure to attend this conference, as we are joined by Lord Robin Renwick of Clifton, the former British Ambassador to South Africa who served during that time of transition and negotiation. I admire Lord Renwick for his dedication to capturing the truth and the details of that complex time, and committing them to paper.
Throughout my long career, I have learned the value of placing the facts on record, rather than assuming that they will be remembered and remembered accurately. Thus, even 25 years later, I still admire Mr de Klerk for acknowledging on the 2nd of February 1990 the role I played in opening the way for constitutional negotiations.
Attempts may be made to modify the narrative of the past as future generations pursue political gains. We have seen that happen before. Neither Mr de Klerk nor I are strangers to propaganda. But once the truth is on record, it becomes more difficult to subvert. All that remains is for us, as the guardians of the truth, to remind the next generation to think for themselves, to consider original records and to test the narrative against the facts.
Anyone willing to do that will discover the fundamental role played by individuals like former President de Klerk and myself, as servant leaders in our nation.
The greatest part of my life has been dedicated to securing, negotiating, strengthening and protecting constitutional democracy. After 25 years, I still consider this an unfinished task. New threats are continually arising which, if left unchecked and unresolved, will undermine all that we have achieved.
I hear the warning sirens of social fragmentation, and recognise that our constitutional democracy will flounder if we fail to maintain that founding principle of non-racialism. For the sake of all we have worked for, and all we still hope to achieve, may the present leadership of our country heed this warning.
I thank former President de Klerk for standing amongst the patriots who sound the warning.
IFP Media, Parliament