Wednesday, February 04, 2004

On de Klerk's endorsement
F W de Klerk has come out in support of the ANC/NNP partnership saying, get this, that, at the moment, the prospect of a truly competitive opposition party is bleak. I find this a little hard to swallow. Without stating the obvious, one of the reasons that the opposition is facing such a bleak future is that it has failed to unite. And one of the major reasons that it has failed to unite is because the NNP is run by a bunch of unprincipled opportunists who fled to the ANC as soon as it dangled the prospect of jobs in government in front of them.

The only consolation is that de Klerk's endorsement will make no difference, the NNP are still going to to get slaughtered at the polls. I expect the DA to receive the bulk of what remains of the NNPs support with the ANC taking the rest. I also wouldn't be surprised if the ANC win the Western Cape without the NNPs help, in which case Kortbroek can kiss his precious partnership goodbye. There is no way he or anybody else in the NNP will be Western Cape Premier in 6 months time and I'm willing to bet that they won't even hold any important provincial cabinet posts either.

I was amused to read van Schalkwyk's response to Tony Leon's criticism of de Klerk:

"Mr de Klerk is an icon to many people in this country because he provided the opportunity for white, coloured and Indian South Africans to take the hand of our fellow black South African brothers and sisters and for that we will always honour him. Mr Leon is fighting way outside his weight class"

van Schalkwyk went on to add that Leon's utterances were causing racial tensions in the country and that cooperation between black and white leaders in the country would prevent the repeat of the Zimbabwean situation.

He's deluding himself if he thinks that de Klerk is an 'icon'. de Klerk's reputation is shot through in the eyes of the left because of his knowledge of and possible sanctioning of 'third force' activities in the early 90s whilst most on the right regard him as, at best, a weak negotiator and, at worst, a sell out. The only place where he may still have some influence is the Western Cape but even there I doubt that it will be enough to make a difference to the outcome of the election. As for van Schalkwyk's reference to Zimbabwe, it bears re-iterating Murray's point that Zimbabwe made a turn for the worst only after Mugabe succeeded in co-opting Joshua Nkomo into the ruling party. As long as Nkomo presented a realistic opposition, Mugabe was constrained in what he could do. One might have thought that the NNP, realising this would have been a little less eager to get into bed with the ANC. Which is to say that if van Schalkwyk can't even get his history correct he would be well advised to refrain from making such inflammatory remarks.

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