De Klerk, Mandela Mend Rift That Imperiled Coalition
President Nelson Mandela and his deputy, F.W. de Klerk, said Friday that they had resolved a crisis over immunity for apartheid crimes that had threatened to break up South Africa’s government of national unity.
The crisis arose over a decision by the government, now dominated by Mandela’s African National Congress, that immunity from prosecution for apartheid crimes for two former ministers and 3,500 police officers had been illegally granted under the formerly white-run government headed by then-President De Klerk.
De Klerk said he took offense at the allegations that his government had acted improperly and threatened to break up the coalition government.
In the meeting with Mandela on Friday, no apologies were sought or offered for what De Klerk had earlier described as the “vicious insults” that had been leveled at him.
But De Klerk and Mandela later issued a statement in which they formally accepted “one another’s good faith and integrity.”
The two leaders did not settle the dispute that triggered the outburst, but they assigned a team of Cabinet ministers to try to resolve the matter.
A breakup of the coalition would have stalled efforts to redress the discrimination of the apartheid era and attract needed foreign investment.