Bertie Lubner vindicated by former president
Responding to media reports based on the book “Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit” written by Hennie van Vuuren, that Lubner had contributed to the National Party, De Klerk told the SA Jewish Report this week that Bertie and others who had given in the 80s had done so “because they supported fundamental and far-reaching reform. They did not support apartheid, they supported the abolition of apartheid.
“They supported a new constitutional dispensation on which the National Party had embarked under PW Botha. I was part of the team and after PW Botha, under me.”
In a personal letter to Bertie Lubner’s son Marc dated August 7, he wrote: “I regard the attack on your father’s integrity as an undeserved smear of a man who at all times stood for a better life for all the people of South Africa.
“In general, and in particular with regard to your father, it is simply not true that he and the other people mentioned in the article supported apartheid.”
De Klerk – who knew Lubner well – said his impression of his political stance over the years was that “he always stood for the best interests of all South Africans and for a more open society and he was supporting the initiatives which the National Party was taking towards that and not the maintenance of the old system.”
Lubner was reported, along with his brother Ronnie and associate Lucien Levy, to have had dinner with PW Botha in June, 1982 and later to have written him a letter of thanks for “a very wonderful evening”. While De Klerk has no knowledge of that event, he cautioned against rushing to judgement but rather to view events in the context of the times.
“One must acknowledge that in ‘82 – that was at the time of the split of the National Party when the right-wing broke away because PW Botha was embarking on far-reaching fundamental reform which resulted in the three-chamber parliament and the appointment of the President’s Council, which had to deal with the future of black political rights.
“Bertie was supporting that,” he stressed, “and not the maintenance of the old suppressive system which was wrong and for which I and many others have apologised.”
De Klerk confirmed what Lubner had related to the book’s author in January 2016 when asked about his support for the then ruling party – the fact that he had made it clear to several government ministers, including De Klerk, when asked to join the National Party, that as a Jew he could not do so.
Would De Klerk say that rather than supporting apartheid, Lubner constructively engaged with government to encourage the reform process? “Absolutely!” was his unequivocal reply.