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South Africa: Mandela's foundation salutes Apartheid-era general


Cape Town, South Africa, April 4 (Infosplusgabon) – President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have paid tribute to an Apartheid-era General who played a key role in ensuring that South Africa’s historic first all-race elections were held in 1994.


Constand Viljoen died of natural causes at his farm in Mpumalanga on Friday at the age of 86.




The former head of the South African Defence Force was responsible for the Apartheid military machine that destabilised large parts of the region in the 1980s.




However, following the collapse of Apartheid, he managed to unite many white right-wingers who were fearful of black majority rule.




In 1993, he formed the Afrikaner Volksfront (Afrikaner People's Front), an umbrella body for conservative Afrikaners and contested the democratic poll which saw Nelson Mandela elected.




Ramaphosa said Vijoen would be remembered for influencing many whites to abandon plans for military resistance to the democratic process.




“General Viljoen's principal contribution was his success in demobilising conservative resistance to the transition in our country at a critical point in our history. His transition from a military commander to a voice in our democratic Parliament illustrated the inclusive, diverse and tolerant character of our constitutional dispensation and body politic,” Ramaphosa said.




The Nelson Mandela Foundation has sent its condolences to Viljoen’s family.




“He was one of Nelson Mandela's most formidable political adversaries. In the treacherous days of South Africa's transition to democracy, he ultimately chose to negotiate with Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) who commended him for his maturity and foresight in choosing to make peace rather than war. There developed between them a mutual respect and Madiba came to regard him as a worthy South African,” the foundation said in a statement.








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