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De Klerk derides ‘afro-pessimists’

South Africa’s under-fire president Jacob Zuma got a little support from an unlikely quarter Tuesday when FW De Klerk laid into the “prophets of doom” doing down the country.

De Klerk, who negotiated an end to white rule in 1994 as South Africa’s last apartheid president, said “afro-pessimists” did not give the country or the continent enough credit for strides made.

De Klerk acknowledged his native South Africa faces “serious international perception problems” but said the country had seen 18 years of almost uninterrupted economic growth.

He added that significant steps had been made in alleviating poverty, improving access to housing, water and electricity.

His comment echo those of Zuma and his ruling ANC, which have come under a barrage of criticism for failing to tackle corruption, labour violence and unemployment — which disproportionately hits blacks.

But De Klerk was not completely gushing about the government’s performance.

“We score badly is in those areas of national activity that fall under the responsibility of government,” he said.

“We are in the bottom 20 percent with regard to the quality of education; the business cost of crime; HIV prevalence; and labour market efficiency.”

But, he added, the government was aware of these problems and had endorsed a National Development Plan to deal with them.

“Africa and South Africa are on the march,” he said.