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De Klerk, Frederik Willem (1936–)

Subject History

Place Southern Africa » South Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


President of South Africa (1989–94). An active member of the National Party while practising law (1961–72), he was elected to parliament in 1972 just after becoming Professor of Administrative Law at Potchefstroom University. He joined the cabinet in 1978, held a variety of ministerial posts and in 1982 became leader of the National Party in the Transvaal. De Klerk succeeded P. W. botha as President of South Africa in 1989 and surprised the nation by the rapidity with which he moved to end the stalemate in South Africa. In February 1990 he said that the ANC, PAC (Pan-Africanist Congress) and Communist Party were no longer banned and in the following weeks released many political prisoners, including Nelson mandela . apartheid legislation, of which he had been an enthusiastic supporter, was repealed: the Separate Amenities Act which imposed segregation in public places, in June 1990, followed in 1991 by the Land Act, which restricted African land ownership to 14 per cent of South Africa in the bantu-stans ; the Group Areas Act, which provided for separate areas where each race must live, and the Population Registration Act, which divided all South Africans into four racial categories. De Klerk carried out these reforms partly because of popular protest and international pressure, but mainly because there was an economic crisis, as sanctions were effective, prices were rising ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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