De Klerk backtracks on homelands comment

May 17, 2012 12:49 pm
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South Africa's last apartheid president FW de Klerk, seen here in 2007, has said his comments justifying ethnically homogenous states were misinterpreted, a week after his remarks sparked a public uproar. © AFP
JOHANNESBURG, May 17 – South Africa’s last apartheid president FW de Klerk has said his comments justifying ethnically homogenous states were misinterpreted, a week after his remarks sparked a public uproar.

De Klerk, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, told CNN in an interview that apartheid was “morally reprehensible” but defended the notion of black independent states as not “repugnant”.

“The remarks I made during my recent interview with Christiane Amanpour have been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted,” De Klerk said in a statement issued by his foundation late Wednesday.

“I have no residual belief in, or attachment to, separate development. Whatever the intentions may have been, I concluded many years ago that it had failed and that it had resulted in manifest injustice”.

The system of “separate development” created 10 ethnic homelands where blacks had citizen rights.

Plagued with corruption and never economically independent from apartheid South Africa, the ethnic homelands created by Pretoria were not recognised internationally.

“During the 1980s I had come to accept that there was no possibility that separate development could lead to a just and acceptable solution to the problems of South Africa,” he said.

The former homeland areas still lag behind in economic development compared to the rest of the country.

As apartheid South Africa’s last president, De Klerk was instrumental in dismantling white rule and freeing Mandela, who became the country’s first black leader in 1994 elections.

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