Mandela was no saint, says de Klerk
FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president, called Nelson Mandela yesterday a "brutal and unfair" opponent and said he was no "holy man", angering the African National Congress.
Mr de Klerk (76) who in 1993 won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Mr Mandela, said the anti-apartheid hero was a principled man of "stature and strength", but was never a faultless figure.
"I do not subscribe to the general hagiography surrounding Mandela," he said in a speech in Johannesburg.
"He was by no means the avuncular and saint-like figure so widely depicted today."
The ruling ANC said Mr de Klerk was "poisoning" the country with his remarks, and could not acknowledge Mr Mandela's bravery because the former president was black.
Keith Khoza, a spokesman, said: "De Klerk should acknowledge Mandela and his achievements and understand that his time has passed as a president."
Mr de Klerk also spoke glowingly about Margaret Thatcher as a great leader who "took on the unions and won -- and subsequently she took on the Argentinians and beat them".
Mr de Klerk last month warned against ANC plans for a "second transition", amid concerns South Africa's post-1994 constitution will be subverted. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Ex-president's words 'poisoning' country, claims ANC