It was Mikhail Gorbachev, groomed to preserve the Soviet empire, who instead painstakingly dismantled it amid the perorations of perestroika and glasnost. He was buried in the rubble. Nearer home, FW de Klerk, who’d earned a reputation as an arch verkrampte (remember those appellations?), came to power and quickly released Nelson Mandela and unbanned the ANC and the communists, unleashing the liberation forces that it had been the instinctual tradition of his ancestry for centuries to suppress. He, too, was soon out on his ear, a victim of his own handiwork. PW Botha, De Klerk’s dour predecessor, had a few years earlier walked to the water’s edge, demurred and then retreated, with calamitous consequences for an economy already battered by international sanctions. Interestingly, it was chiefly De Klerk who had caused Botha to deliver that disastrous Rubicon speech. It often takes a person or leader with credibility with a particular constituency to force that constituency to swallow ...

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