Margaret Thatcher’s death set off a flurry of tributes from around the world, but none from South Africa. That’s because Thatcher, who died on Monday, was a supporter of apartheid, even going to far to call Mandela and those fighting against apartheid “terrorists.”
“Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land,” she once said of the African National Congress.
Even though Thatcher showed profound disregard for South African self-governance, an ANC spokesperson issued a glowing statement.
“Her passing signals the end of a generation of leaders that ruled during a very difficult period characterised by the dynamics of the Cold War,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu. “She was one of the strong leaders in Britain and Europe, to an extent that some of her policies dominate discourse in the public service structures of the world.”
But other activists and leaders in South African aren’t being nearly as kind.
Pallo Jordan, an ANC leader who was once exiled from his own country, told The Guardian “Good riddance” when asked about Thatcher’s death.
“I’ve just sent a letter of congratulations,” Jordan said. “I say good riddance. She was a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime. She was part of the right wing alliance with Ronald Reagan that led to a lot of avoidable deaths.”
The South African president who governed and upheld apartheid, F.W. de Klerk, offered praise of Thatcher upon hearing of her death.
After hearing of her passing, de Klerk wrote that he was “honoured to have had Margaret Thatcher as a friend.”