1887

n Historia - "Had it too easy?" Frederik van Zyl Slabbert's resignation as leader of the official parliamentary opposition, 7 February 1986

USD

 

Abstract

For Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, his resignation on 7 February 1986 as the leader of the Progressive Federal Party and the official parliamentary opposition was a principled, self-sacrificing political statement, an act of political courage to alert whites to the harsh reality that South Africa was on the verge of a race revolution, and that parliament had entrenched apartheid and could not be used to get rid of it. This essay argues that the reality is more complex and ambiguous, and that the journalist Ken Owen's accusations that the fault did not reside with the parliamentary system, but with Slabbert himself, must be taken seriously. Owen alleged that Slabbert could deal with success, but not with defeat, because he had risen too far too fast in politics. The article concludes that Slabbert was a man of brilliant gifts, but for the leader of a small liberal party in a racist and conservative white society he lacked one crucial characteristic - tenacity - the dogged determination to keep on fighting whatever the cost.

Vir Frederik van Zyl Slabbert was sy bedanking as die leier van die Progressiewe Federale Party en die amptelike parlementêre opposisie op 7 Februarie 1986 'n poging om blankes te waarsku dat Suid-Afrika op die rand van 'n rasse-rewolusie was; dat die parlementêre stelsel apartheid verskans het en nie gebruik kon word om daarvan ontslae te raak nie. Sy bedanking was dus 'n beginselvaste en opofferende politieke handeling, 'n daad wat politieke moed geverg het. Die werklikheid is egter meer kompleks en dubbelsinnig. Die aanklag van die joernalis Ken Owen dat die probleem nie by die parlementêre stelsel berus het nie, maar by Slabbert, moet ernstig opgeneem word. Volgens Owen was dit 'n geval dat Slabbert te vinnig opgang in die politiek gemaak het, en gepaardgaande daarmee nie terugslae kon verwerk nie. Hierdie artikel kom tot die slotsom dat Slabbert 'n begaafde persoon was, maar dat hy nie die nodige taaiheid (die vermoe om met 'n hardnekkig vasberadenheid aan te hou veg, ongeag die prys wat betaal moes word) om die leier van 'n klein liberale party in 'n rassistiese en konserwatiewe gemeenskap te wees, gehad het nie.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/hist/60/2/EJC183141
2015-01-01
2016-12-08
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error