Bobby Jordan, Times Live, February 11, 2020
The release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 was not an act of kindness on the part of then-president FW de Klerk, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
Instead, Mandela’s release was the inevitable consequence of public protest against the apartheid regime.
“It was not an act of kindness of FW de Klerk,” Ramaphosa said when speaking at Cape Town city hall to mark the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison.
“It was not because he was a kind-hearted man. It was because of pressure and the struggle that our people waged.”
Speaking from the balcony he shared with Mandela on February 11 1990, and standing alongside the statue of Madiba now installed there, Ramaphosa also praised Winnie Madikizela-Mandela for her role in the struggle while Mandela was in jail.
“She and many others kept the fires of resistance burning in the breasts of the people of this country,” he said.
Mandela united the country at a critical juncture and used his first public address to foster nation-building rather than denounce his captors.
“Nothing could describe that brief second when the microphone crackled,” said Ramaphosa, who was at Mandela’s side when he made his now famous first public speech after his release.