17 May 2010
President Jacob Zuma has joined thousands of mourners in expressing his condolences to the family of former South African opposition leader, political analyst and businessman Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, who passed away on Friday.
Van Zyl Slabbert died at the age of 70 after spending some time at a Johannesburg hospital.
Zuma said Van Zyl Slabbert’s visionary leadership lived on in the government’s efforts to build and strengthen democracy in South Africa.
“He will be remembered as a principled and patriotic South African who served his country diligently,” Zuma said.
Van Zyl Slabbert, whose conventional Afrikaner upbringing did not prevent him from recognising the folly of the apartheid system, played a prominent role in the struggle against apartheid.
A sociologist by training, his academic work brought him into contact with people of other races at the height of apartheid. This laid the seeds for his opposition to the system, Zuma said.
As a Member of Parliament, Van Zyl Slabbert was an outspoken critic of minority rule.
“He will be remembered in particular for his courage and foresight in leading a group of white South Africans to Dakar, Senegal in 1987 for talks with the ANC that proved a critical moment on the path towards a negotiated settlement.”