CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Feb. 6, 2002
Former South African President F.W. de Klerk lectures at UI
(Editor's note: A press conference for de Klerk will be held on Feb. 14,
with the time and location to be announced later.)
South African President F.W. de Klerk, who is credited with dismantling apartheid
and who freed then African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela from prison,
will offer a free and public lecture at the University of Iowa Thursday, Feb.
14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union. De Klerk's
lecture is made possible by the UI Lecture Committee.
Frederik Willem de Klerk, the politician, was not known as a supporter of
racial reforms. As minister of National Education, he supported segregated
universities, but his actions in calling for a non-racist South Africa and
his lifting of a ban against his National Party rival the ANC marked a turning
point in that country's political history. For his efforts he was awarded
the1993 Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with Mandela.
De Klerk was elected leader of the National Party in February 1989 and in
September was elected State President. Many historians credit him with helping
open the way for a new democratic constitution. An overwhelming majority in
the South African Constitutional Assembly adopted a permanent antiapartheid
constitution in 1996 but that document was rejected by the supreme court there,
which said the constitution didn't live up "to earlier political agreements."
The country now operates under a permanent constitution.
Amid controversy, de Klerk removed the white-led National Party in 1996
from the ANC-led South African government, fracturing the ideal of a one-nation
South Africa. Explaining his decision he said, "Yesterday was correctly
described as the final moment of the birth of a nation. That nation needs
a sound, strong multi-party system, and our vision and mission clearly states
that it is fundamentally necessary that such a political movement develop
which can ensure that we don't drift into a one-party state."
Now 64, de Klerk earned a law degree from Potchefstroom University in 1958
and has held various ministerial posts in South Africa beginning in 1978 as
Minster of Posts and Telecommunications and Social Welfare and Pensions, and
National Education and Planning from 1984-1989.
Established in his name, the F.W. de Klerk Foundation is dedicated to working
for peace throughout South Africa and the world.