Pretoria, South Africa, 4 May 2010
The announcement, earlier today, of the death of Dr Frederick van
Zyl Slabbert, academic, politician, activist and, above all, South African
patriot and social theorist, is a deeply personal one. Throughout his
life, from his days as a student and lecturer at the University of
Stellenbosch, he served as an inspiration - an example of someone deeply
committed to social justice and with an abiding concern for his fellow
countrymen and women. He was also a personal and a family friend of ISS
executive director Dr Jakkie Cilliers.
In many ways the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) owes Van Zyl its existence. Following his resignation as leader of the official opposition he co-founded the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) in 1986 with Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Alex Boraine. In his capacity as a director of IDASA he facilitated exchanges with Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC, in Lusaka, Zambia from where, in meetings between Jakkie Cilliers and Chris Hani, the inspiration for the ISS was borne. Later, Van Zyl assisted with fundraising efforts with the Anglo American and De Beers` Chairmans Fund as well as with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Subsequently, until 2000 Van Zyl served on the Advisory Council of the Institute. Having shunned mainstream politics for social activism, his contribution to the transition in South Africa was never fully acknowledged by either the ANC or the National Party, or indeed recognized by the broader society that benefited so richly from his commitment and personal sacrifice. May his family take solace from the example that he has left for others.
By Jakkie Cilliers, on behalf of the trustees and President of the Advisory Council of the Institute for Security Studies.
The Institute for Security of Studies is a an established think tank working in the area of African human security headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa with offices in Cape Town, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was founded in 1991 by Jakkie Cilliers and PB Mertz. For more information, please visit www.issafrica.org