Tributes from friends, colleagues and followers

Sampie & Ina after the award of an honourary doctorate by the University of the Free State, the first of three honourary doctorates in economics

Prof. Drucilla Cornell, Rutgers University 2013, friend

Economist, Critic of Neoliberal Capitalism, and a Veteran in the Struggle for Justice


I have been honored to know Sampie Terreblanche since 2007. He has been a supporter of the uBuntu Project from that time, and honored us with his presence by speaking in the series of seminars I ran under the Project’s name at the University of Cape Town. I was a National Research Foundation professor at that time, and living in South Africa. In 2008, I joined with prof. Terreblanche and prof. Mahmoud Mamdani in their call for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission after what were labeled the “ethnocentric riots” in the townships throughout South Africa. We argued that it was dire poverty that was at the basis of these uprisings in the townships. Mamdani and Terreblanche first made their own call for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission in 1998. To understand the reasons behind their insistence that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was not enough to even begin to solve the massive economic problems facing South Africa, we need to remind ourselves of prof. Terreblanche’s foundational book, A History of Inequality in South Africa, 1652-2002.

It is impossible to even begin the summarize the rich argument in that brilliant book, but for now I would like to emphasize two arguments, before turning to this new book, Lost in Transformation. First, prof. Terreblanche’s historical account is given from an explicit normative perspective. History is told as an account of unfree black labor. As I argued in my book written with Kenneth Michael Panfilio, Symbolic Forms for a New Humanity, this normative perspective has an implicit telos in it, which is that the normative ideal implied is that of free black labor. This implies that we attempt to give an account of what free black labor might look like. In a deep sense, we can understand prof. Terreblanche’s call for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission to be part of an effort to begin to understand what the normative ideal of free black labor might look like, and what kind of economic organization could undo the history of unfree black labor which he so painstakingly describes. This is an aspect of Terreblanche’s work that might well go unnoticed. His work as an advocate for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission and his critique of apartheid as part of a brutal and long history that long preceded it means that we cannot simply see the wrong of apartheid as political exclusion. Therefore that wrong cannot simply be corrected by political inclusion in basic civil and political rights such as the right to vote. If there is then to be a transformation of South Africa into an ethically viable new way of human beings living together in the “new nation,” it must involve the undoing of the systematic conditions of subordination inextricably connected to unfree black labor. Thus for Terreblanche, unlike for some U.S. political theorists, theory and practice are integrally connected. The role of theory is indeed to help us highlight the direction our political practice must take, and indeed, critique demands nothing less of us than that we pursue a practical agenda consistent with our critique.

Long before his call for the Justice and Reconciliation Commission in 1998, prof. Terreblanche was involved in the South African Delegation in 1987, which as he describes them were “talks about talks.” These were informal discussions with the African National Congress about whether or not a negotiated settlement was possible. Apart from Terreblanche, the Afrikaner academics included professors Willie Esterhuizen, Willem de Klerk, and Marinus Wiechers; the ANC leaders included Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, and Aziz Pahad. Terreblanche, however, does not tell about his own involvement to pat himself on the back. Instead, he tells the story of how the summits between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986 played a major role in pushing the ANC to feel they had no other choice but to engage in negotiations, because Gorbachev made it clear that the Soviet Union would now strive for negotiated and diplomatic solutions to conflicts in countries such as South Africa, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Iran, and North Korea (just to name a few), whereas the Soviet Union had previously supported armed struggles. So for Terreblanche, these “talks about talks” were not simply set up by the ANC and his own committee. There were players behind the scene that were pushing for a particular kind of settlement, and they continue to play a major role, The two major players were the United States and the United Kingdom.

As Terreblanche emphasizes throughout both books, Britain has always been politically dominant in South Africa, long after it let South Africa go as a colony. As a result, in 1986, Margaret Thatcher, who along with Ronald Reagan had refused to impose economic sanctions on South Africa, changed her position, and first held meetings with P.W. Botha and later with F.W. De Klerk as to what they should do to achieve a negotiated settlement with the ANC. For Terreblanche, the role of the U.S. government and its allies in this settlement is part of the devastating story of the ANC’s capitulation to being what he describes as a satellite of the neoliberal empire of the United States. The first major point that Terreblanche makes, then, is that there was an elite compromise that was to a large degree controlled by U.S. and British dominated interests, and not by the economic interests of the people of South Africa. The second major point in both books is that capitalism is always what Terreblanche calls a “dual politico-economic system.” Key for Terreblanche is that any nation state must be strong enough to control the inherent abuses of capitalism. I quote Terreblanche in full, because I will raise questions as to whether such a thing as democratic capitalism is possible at the end of this essay:

Democratic capitalism, as a dual politico-economic system, only reached maturity after a long ‘gestation’ period. The democratic and the capitalist ‘sides’ of this politico-economic system are contradictory: while democracy emphasises joint interests, equality and common loyalties, capitalism is based on self-seeking inequality and conflicting individual and group interests. The legal system that protects both democracy and capitalism is based on the principle of equality before the law, but maintains inequalities in the distribution of property rights and of opportunities for the capitalist system. The ‘logic’ of capitalism – given the unequal freedoms and unequal rights upon which it is based – thus goes against the grain of the ‘logic’ of democracy (Terreblanche 2012).

In A History of Inequality in South Africa, Terreblanche argued that the transformation of South Africa, which began with the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, after fraught negotiations, was incomplete, although he does not want to deny the accomplishments of the negotiated settlement. South Africa has what can easily be considered the most progressive constitution in the world, one that promises what Emeritus Justice Laurie Ackermann has called a “substantive revolution.” And what is a substantive revolution? It is a revolution that does not completely overthrow the existing government, but at the same time transforms all of its ethical relationships. Terreblanche argues that the capitulation to neoliberal capitalism in the United States form was decided behind closed doors. Economics, in other words, was not subject to constitutional negotiations, and indeed, he speculates that the constitutional negotiations themselves were held in check in part by the ANC’s request for a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which has always imposed strict conditions that would make it impossible for South Africa to engage in a thorough redistribution of wealth. Therefore, the Justice and Reconciliation Commission was absolutely necessary to reconsider these secret deals and to raise the questions that needed to be asked: What kind of economic system must be adopted to undo 350 years of unfree black labor, and what kinds of measures must be undertaken to undermine, if not undo, the vast inequalities of wealth that continue to exist in South Africa?

But in his new book, Terreblanche develops this theme even more powerfully, in that he argues that there has never been a politico-economic system in South Africa in which the political side could restrain the capitalist side in the name of the well-being of society. He lists four periods. First, the period of the Dutch East Indian Company, which ruled from 1652 to 1795. Simply put, the government was the Dutch East Indian Company. Next, there was British colonialism, in which again the British colonial authorities were completely subordinated to the capitalist British Empire. Third and fourth is the domination of the MEC, which according to Terreblanche continues to dominate South African politics to this day, with a handful of other corporations. The ANC inherits this long history of absolute subordination of what Terreblanche calls the political side of democratic capitalism to the interests of the capitalist class. The history of the MEC is described in great detail, with its bloody suppression of black workers, which as Terreblanche points out continues through the recent aggression against the miners’ strike. Although the National Party gained political power in 1948, it was only allowed to control certain aspects of political life, i.e. the promotion of discriminatory legislation in favor of Afrikaners and against Africans. But the National Party ultimately allowed itself to be run by the interests of the MEC.

When the National Party seemed to become a stumbling block to what capitalism saw as its interests, some of the major corporations in South Africa actually supported people like Terreblanche, who were seeking a negotiated settlement. Indeed, Terreblanche remarks that this was one of the few times in his life, if not the only time, when he was a favorite of the British corporations in South Africa:

At these meetings we were treated as if we were celebreties. Shell organised and financed a large anti-apartheid conference of white businessmen, academics and prominent black leaders at White Plains near New York in September 1987. Zach de Beer played an important role at the conference in building bridges between members of the PFP and members of the ‘independent’ groups (Terreblanche 2012)

In 1989, the Progressive Federal Party alligned itself with other independent groups to form the Democratic Party. Terreblanche became the economic advisor for the Democratic Party and a member of the executive council of that party. The Democratic Party took the position that any democratic election would have to be based on the principle of one person, one vote, which would obviously include the entirety of the black population, at least at some point. The National Party fought hard against the Democratic Party, arguing against their one person, one vote “propaganda.” Terreblanche later worried that perhaps part of the onslaught of the National Party against the position of one person, one vote was that they were under pressure from U.S. and British-led capitalist groups, who were busy trying to manipulate South African politics. Therefore, they were supposed to slow down constitutional negotiations.

Nelson Mandela famously walked out of prison with his fists in the air and a commitment to socialism. But his commitment obviously soon wavered. From 1990 onward, Mandela and Harry Oppenheimer of the MEC met regularly. According to Terreblanche, a number of corporations joined in these secret negotiations, which reached  a climax in 1993. By 1993, South Africa was governed by the Transitional Executive Council, which had eight members of the National Party and eight members of the ANC. It was the Transitional Executive Council that agreed to the IMF loan, which basically signed South Africa on to the United States’ neoliberal agenda. This compromise not only left out the majority of the people, but also fundamentally undermined the possiblity of a truly new South Africa. Terreblanche’s fundamental argument, backed up with careful statistical evidence, is that things have actually gotten worse for the poor in the new South Africa. But he makes a point that is oftentimes ignored, and which informed not only his call for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission, but also his proposal for a wealth tax on the rich. His analysis is that there is a relation between the rich and the poor, which is always part of a system of impoverishment under neoliberal capitalism. It is that system that must be undone. To quote Terreblanche:

The rich and the poor are two sides of the same systemic coin. Nothing explains this close relationship better than the situation in South Africa during the first seventy years of the twentieth century when whites constituted 20 per cent of the total population, while receiving more than 70 per cent of the total income. Africans constituted almost 70 per cent of the total population, but constantly received less than 20 per cent of the total income – a skewed situation that can be ascribed to the politico-economic system of white political dominance and racial capitalism/corporatism in place in South Africa during that period. In this system both capitalism/corporatism and white political dominance enriched whites undeservedly and impoverished blacks undeservedly (Terreblanche 2012).

In the conclusion of his new book, Terreblanche critiques the National Development Commission’s stated goals for 2030 in South Africa, which would include, among other things, lowering the unemployment rate to six percent. Of course, Terreblanche thinks the goals are laudatory. But the problem is that there is no understanding of the system of neoliberal capitalism and the relationship between the rich and the poor in South Africa, and therefore there is no effective plan to reach those goals. Terreblanche predicts that things will get increasingly worse for the black majority, and the only remaining solution, given that the ANC has turned a blind eye to what the real problem is, would be a revolutionary transformation. In addition to an economic critique of the ANC’s economic policies, Terreblanche offers us a detailed account of their failure to rule as a people’s government. I share some of that critique. But I want to raise several questions to Terreblanche, given his own analysis of what he calls “democratic capitalism.”

In Lost in Transformation, Terreblanche favorably quotes Fernand Braudel, who argues that capitalism is only truly triumphant when capitalists are so closely identified with the state that they become the state. Indeed, he then goes on to approvingly cite Giovanni Arrighi, who actually argues that China is not a capitalist state because the capitalist class and it alone has not become the state. If this is indeed a definition of capitalism, that the capitalist class becomes totally identified with the state—and certainly on one reading of Marx he would have agreed—then can there ever be anything like democratic capitalism? Would we not instead have to argue that democratic socialism is the only true alternative to the dominance of the neoliberal U.S. empire? Of course none of us truly know what democratic socialism would entail. But would it not begin with at least raising all the issues of the economy to be democratically discussed? Was not that the point of the Justice and Reconciliation Commission?

My next question to Terreblanche has to do with what he sees as the ANC’s one-sided mobilization of Africanization to create a black, very small elite. Here I want to bring Frantz Fanon into the argument. Fanon distinguished between two kinds of nationalism in Wretched of the Earth (2004). The first kind of nationalism was that of the bourgeoisie, which separated a political solution to neocolonialism from the economic solution, with the hope that they might join the ruling class, even as “second-class citizens.” The second form of nationalism, which for Fanon was always transnational, was a people’s nationalism, which claimed democratic control over all aspects of life, including the economy. The mobilization of indigenous ideals in this people’s nationalism is a complex and difficult question. Terreblanche himself has advocated in uBuntu Project meetings that uBuntu could be used even at the level of the Constitutional Court to challenge certain neoliberal assumptions about who has the right to what, particularly given the distribution of wealth in South Africa. One way of thinking about uBuntu is not simply that it is an indigenous or black value, although it of course finds its roots there, but that it has a universal appeal precisely because it ultimately is an ethic of our being human together, not being African together. If this is the case, can values like uBuntu play a role in the on-the-ground struggles that are already beginning to challenge the ANC’s hegemony as the former party of liberation? The Shack Dwellers, for instance, have coined the phrase “revolutionary uBuntu,” and this phrase was picked up by the miners in their recent strike. Therefore, perhaps the problem is less with Africanization than with what Fanon would have called the capitulation of a national bourgeoisie to the demands of capitalism. I leave Terreblanche with these questions for further discussion.

I want to conclude by thanking him for always being willing to continue the discussion, and for his insistence that even while we are offering searing, perhaps devastating critiques of the failure of transformation, we cannot sit on the sidelines as we offer these critiques. We also have to offer and fight for solutions. It is important to remember here that part of the reason the elite compromise had to be behind closed doors is that there is absolutely no way that the black majority would have accepted that compromise. The ANC began its struggle in 1912. The ANC has no doubt tried to demobilize its members, but I would argue that they have failed to do so and will continue to fail to do so. So perhaps I should end this essay by once again joining Terreblanche’s call for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission, where questions of economic justice could finally be addressed. I thank him for his courage and for being an example to all academics for what our responsibility is in an unjust world.


Carmen Marchetti, Washington DC - Former student and friend (2018)
A man of a higher order of consciousness 
How deeply privileged, fortunate, lucky I find myself to have enrolled for a law degree at Stellenbosch in 1993 only to be subverted in my law ambitions by the work and lectures of Prof. Sampie Terreblanche. So many of his students remember his passionate discourses on “hierdie ondermaanse bestaan”, this sub-human existence that so many of us around the globe are born into.  And his cry to arms - that it is our duty to challenge the human-made structures that rob men and women of their right to dignity in life, and their right to thrive. A challenge to “create a totally new social reality.”

It is Sampie’s mind that rigorously pursued truth and understanding of the human condition from a political and economic perspective. It was, however, a good heart, a strong moral compass that was the driver behind his indefatigable intellectual persecution of the apartheid state and other systems of predatory economic extraction, ideologies of soulless materialism and mindless consumerism, and tribal religious dogmas. 

Sampie has been deeply suspicious of religious dogma and the role that it had played in becoming the ideological vehicle harnessing and manipulating human energies in the subjugation of both the individual and groups of people. In this, his robust work on five hundred years of Western empire building is a testament to his creative and scholarly approach to creating intellectual frames of reference for understanding the dynamic predatory nature of modern economies. 

Across his years at the University of the Free State, Harvard and Stellenbosch, Sampie’s intellectual pursuits were informed by a strong sense of a much better and more humane world where the beauty of human ingenuity, natural curiosity and a love of competition could work as complementary forces in forming a balanced system conducive to holistic development and shared prosperity. To students he would explain this as the marriage between social democracy and capitalism. His book “Politieke Ekonomie en Sosiale Welvaart” expands in detail on the multiple layers needed to balance the many demands and competing interests of human endeavour. 

Sampie’s expansive work on economics, politics, and social justice is characterized by a deep burning love of the truth and a dedication to the dignity of all life. His pace of work over more than six decades has been relentless, his energies had been galvanized by the brutality and injustice of the wicked systems of oppression as manifested in apartheid and colonization. Given the threat under which democracies the world over now find themselves, Sampie’s work of the 1980s on the history and development of Western democratic institutions rings prophetic: 

“Since 1941 when America accepted the leadership position of the West and role as unifying core of the anti-Communist world, more than {seven} decades have run their course. This role has, however, placed so much strain on American institutions and spiritual capacities that it appears that America is still not ready for the responsibility of global leadership… Despite the exceptional technical and production successes, and despite the access to foreign resources enjoyed by middle and multi-national businesses, the political system and capitalist economy generate a multitude of conflicting demands that it becomes simply impossible for the system to balance or meet such demands.” 

In this, the invaluable work of scholars such as Sampie has contributed to the body of knowledge that guides us into the uncharted territory of a deeply integrated world driven by unprecedented technological innovation and better educated, wealthier populations. In understanding the roots of the system governing modern day economic life we are better placed to dare, as Kgalema Motlanthe writes, create a totally new social reality, securing the legacies of those that through time immemorial have spoken truth to power. 

On a personal note, I am deeply grateful to Prof. Sampie for his beautiful example in living a life of moral courage in the face of so much darkness for so many years, for defying those that looked like him in defense of those that were vulnerable and had no voice, for building the bridges into the future for the younger generations so that all might share in the fruits of human endeavour and economic prosperity. 

As a mother, I was deeply touched when Prof. Sampie told me he was retiring from lecturing to take care of his wife Ina who had a long struggle with cancer. He wanted to care of her as she had cared for him and their family all those many years. Prof. Sampie felt, he told me, that the intellectual success he had achieved, the long hours of relentless hard work it had demanded, would not have allowed him to have his precious family had it not been for Ina. 

Prof. Sampie Terreblanche’s body of work records this endeavour of life at a higher order of consciousness, this re-imagining of human possibilities as Kgaletma Motlanthe had said of Ahmed Kathrada. Sampie’s work is a reckoning with the past, and a bridge into the future.

Sampie & Ina at the award of an honorary degree by the University of the Free State, the first of three honorary doctorates in economics.


Max du Preez, former colleague on the board of Vrye Weekblad 

Sampie Terreblanche is one of my all-time favourite South Africans. Incisive, unwavering, a world-class economist, brave, stubborn. And a thoroughly decent human being.   


Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, Makerere University, Kampala

I met Sampie during my three year sojourn at the University of Cape Town, 1996-99. We met several times. Once, I gave a talk to his students. Another time, he invited me to dinner at his home. We had a shared interest in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its failure to address the question of social justice. Sampie was possessed of enormous intellectual energy, driven by a keen sense of social justice, which in turn was informed by a broad awareness of historical wrongs done to working and colonized peoples. Sampie’s life and work will be a strong inspiration to all who seek to contribute to the making of a more just world.


Gillian Schutte, film maker 

Why I have so much respect for Professor Sampie Terreblanche, author of A History of Inequality in South Africa, and other works. His work comes from a place of genuine engagement. He is not trying to be original and come up with a new mind-blowing theoretical framework and interpretations to dazzle his peers. He has a genuine interest in educating the masses. He writes from a left perspective without identifying himself as a radical so his work is egoless and accessible to readers who are not economists or university level readers or radical... yet his work will inevitably radicalise readers. He does not tie us up in jargon and intimidate us with knowledge credentials. He writes in an experiential narrative that draws you in. He transmogrified from Broederbond background to enlightened human and took the hard and brutal fallout from the elite Afrikaaner Stellenbosch mafia and others. Thank you for your massive and accessible contribution to the South African knowledge base Sampie Terreblanche. I hope your books are disseminated to libraries all over South Africa and translated into indigenous languages as well as multimedia formats ... to further share the profound experience of understanding the history of global economics and the heinous impact on people classified 'not white' by an Imperialist white Christian system. 

Eerbewyse deur kollegas met Sampie se 80ste verjaardag in 2013

Prof. emeritus Colin McCarthy, kollega in die Stellenbosch Department van Ekonomie

Talle ekonome wat op Stellenbosch studeer het, sal dikwels een ding beklemtoon: dis aan Sampie Terreblanche te danke dat hulle besluit het om nagraads met ekonomie verder te gaan. Al het sommiges van hom verskil wat ekonomiese denke betref, het sy entoesiasme as dosent en prikkelende lesings in ‘n ononderbroke dienstyd van 54 jaar, en sy uitdaging aan studente om krities te dink, nuwe denkwêrelde vir hulle oopgemaak. Dis moelik om ‘n groter kompliment vir die bydrae van ‘n senior kollega te bedink. 

Sampie Terreblanche het in 1957 sy M.A. in ekonomie met lof aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch verwerf, die universiteit waar hy in 1952 as eerstejaar–regsstudent ingeskryf het. Hy het ‘n pos as dosent in ekonomie aan die Universiteit van die Vrystaat in Bloemfontein aanvaar. Hier het hy tot 1964 klas gegee, eers as lektor en daarna as senior lektor.

In 1965 is hy met ‘n aanstelling as senior lektor terug na sy alma mater en in 1968 word hy as professor in ekonomie aangestel, ‘n pos wat hy tot sy formele aftrede in 1995 beklee het. Maar die klem val hier op “formele” aftrede, want om volledig as dosent uit diens te tree, was vir Sampie en sy kollegas ‘n vreemde gedagte. As emeritusprofessor het hy ‘n verdere 15 jaar studente die voordeel van sy voor-en nagraadse lesings gegee. Met so ‘n lang dienstyd was dit nie ongewoon dat ‘n grootouer, ouer en kind in sy klas gesit het nie.

Dis nie vreemd dat dosente in ekonomie ‘n tyd in betrekkings buite die akademie deurbring nie. In Sampie Terreblance se geval het dit nie gebeur nie. Hy is en was altyd ‘n akademikus in murg en been, iemand wat vir die beroep in die wieg gelê is. Dit sorg nogal vir ‘n komiese oomblik as jy Sampie in jou verbeelding sou voorstel as ‘n staatsamptenaar, en dan nog erger, in ‘n uitvoerende pos in die private sektor.

Duisende oudstudente  kan getuig van die geesdrif waarmee Sampie sy lesings dekades lank aangebied het, nie dat almal altyd presies verstaan het wat “in hierdie ondermaanse bestaan” beteken nie. Sy studieveld is ekonomiese geskiedenis, die geskeidenis van ekonomiese denke en ekonomiese stelsels en hierdie velde het hy skerpsinnig aangebied.  Dis bekend dat Sampie met ‘n kritiese oog na die kapitalisme kyk en sy kritiek het hy nog altyd duidelik bekendgemaak. Dit het daartoe gelei  dat hy deur sommiges ‘n “sosialis” beskryf is. Daar is niks mee verkeerd om ‘n sosialis genoem te word as jy wel een is nie, maar in Sampie Terreblanche se geval is so ‘n benaming misleidend. Die feit dat jy strukturele gebreke in die kapitalistiese stelsel en in markgedrewe ekonomieë as ‘n probleem uitwys, soos Sampie konsekwent doen, maak nie van jou ‘n sosialis nie.

Een ding van Sampie wat sy kollegas altyd opgeval het, was sy vreesloosheid in die gesig van kontroversie en selfs hewige kritiek. In die Departement het ons as kollegas dikwels gedink dat ons in ons doppe sou kruip as so ‘n polemiese storm rondom ons sou losbars. Maar nie Sampie Terreblanche nie. Soms het ek die indruk gekry dat hy dit selfs geniet, argument teen argument, maar nooit persoonlik nie, in die goeie tradisie van kritiese diskoers.

Aan opponente het dit nooit ontbreek nie. Daar was altyd meningsvormers aan die ander kant van die argumentskeidslyn. Wat dit veral interessant gemaak het, was die feit dat Sampie se eie politieke affiliasie en denke oor tyd verander het. Eers was hy stewig in die kamp van Nasionale Party, weliswaar deel van die ‘verligte spesie’, maar die onreg en onwerkbaarheid van apartheid het hom eers deel van die onafhanklike beweging gemaak en uiteindelik ‘n stigterslid van die Demokratiese Party.  Met verloop van tyd het hy egter ‘n waarnemer van die politiek in Suid-Afrika geword wat sonder ‘n party-politieke affiliasie ‘n kritiese blik op die Suid-Afrikaanse politieke ekonomie gewerp en daaroor geskryf en gepraat het. Na 1994 het ‘n gedemokratiseerde Suid-Afrika hom steeds as ‘n ‘wagter op die mure’ gevind, iemand wat vreesloos die meerderheidsregering se onreg teenoor die arm swart meerderheid en, vir Sampie, die onheilige alliansie tussen die regering en die sake-sektor onder die soeklig geplaas het.

Sampie Terreblanche se verandering van politieke denke en affiliasie is ook in sy openbare diens weerspieël. As deel van die establishment was hy van 1972 tot 1987 ‘n lid van die SAUK se Raad en van 1979 to 1985 lid van die regering se Ekonomiese Adviesraad.  Sampie was deurgaans ‘n ywerige en prolifieke briefskrywer wat gereeld in polemieke in Die Burger se meningskolomme betrokke was. Maar die mees sigbare wending in sy politieke denke wat koerante betref, was sy betrokkenheid by Vrye Weekblad, daardie vars bries in die Afrikaanse joernalistiek van destyds. Hy was op die raad van Wending Uitgewery, uitgewer van Vrye Weekblad en het elke twee weke ‘n rubriek in die koerant, Tuynshuis Monitor, geskryf. Die eens invloedryke lid van die Nasionale Party establishment het sy openbare diens aan die ander kant van die politieke spektrum voortgesit toe hy van van 1991 tot 1996 ‘n lid was van die Taakgroep oor Ekonomiese Sake van die Raad van Kerke en toe hy in 1997, op versoek, voor die Waarheids – en Versoeningskommissie getuig het  oor die rol van die SAUK, die media en van die sakesektor gedurende die apartheidsjare.

In die Departement het ons sy politieke wendings en sienings met belangstelling gevolg, synde dan ook baie goed daaroor ingelig tydens teekamer- en kantoorgesprekke. Deur al die jare het ek ‘n belangrike les geleer. Daar was twee senior professore in die Departement, Jan Sadie en Sampie Terreblanche. Ek het albei goed geken en was deeglik bewus dat hulle oor wesenlike aspekte van die ekonomies-politieke debat verskillende menings gehad het. Maar nooit het ek gehoor dat hulle ernstig verskil en, wat so dikwels in die akademiese wêreld gebeur, mekaar kil en selfs vyandig behandel het nie. Ek kan my nie enige geleentheid herinner dat die een iets negatief teenoor die ander in my teenwoordigheid kwytgeraak het nie.

Wat die beste in Sampie na vore gebring het, was toe hy as lid word van die Erika Theron Kommissie (1973-76) - wat sake rakende die Kleurlingbevolkingsgroep ondersoek het - en as voorsitter van die Kommissie se Werkgroep oor Ekonomie en Arbeid opgetree het. In die Departement, destyds maar baie klein in dosente-getal, het ons sy entoesiame ervaar en gereeld aangehoor. Vir ons as kollegas was dit duidelik dat die Kommissie se werksaamhede vir Sampie ‘n intellektuele en politieke waterskeiding was, die eerste, maar belangrike stap om van die ou bedeling in Suid-Afrika afskeid te neem. Ironies genoeg is  hierdie belangrike kommissie se werksaamhede gedryf deur die voorsitter van die kommissie, Erika Theron, Professor in Maatskaplike Werk aan die US met haar kantoor aan die westelike kant en Sampie Terreblanche, Professor in Ekonomie met sy kantoor aan die oostelike kant – en nogal van   alle plekke, in die Verwoerd-gebou. 

Sampie se betrokkenheid in die politieke ekonomie diskoers het natuurlik neerslag gevind in sy lesings. Hierin het hy dikwels duiwelsadvokaat gespeel en soms sommer fiktiewe stories opgemaak om kleur te verleen en kritiese denke te bevorder. Sommige studente het dit nie gesnap nie. In een lesing het Sampie die studente vertel dat hy genooi is om Brasilië toe te gaan om deel te hê aan ondersoeke na dié land se probleme wat baie soos dié van Suid-Afrika was. ‘n Student, seun van ‘n prominente kabinetslid, het dit nie gesnap nie, tot latere verleentheid vir Sampie. By ‘n sosiale geleentheid in Kaapstad het die minister en sy vrou vir Sampie vertel hoe spyt hulle is om te hoor hy verhuis Brasilië toe!

Een van my aangenaamste herinneringe is ‘n besoek van ‘n groep Stellenbosch dosente aan Harare in die laat 1980s. Sampie is ook saam en so ook ‘n aantal teoloë. Wat ek spesifiek onthou was Bruce Springsteen se konsert die aand in Harare, ‘n konsert wat uit protes teen die Suid-Afrikaanse bewind in Zimbabwe gehou is en deur duisende jong Suid-Afrikaners bygewoon is. Ons is die middag na die Kubaanse Ambassade waar ons onder andere op ‘n mooi manier verduidelik is dat hulle eintlik die Slag van Cuito Cuanavale gewen het. Die geselskap is aangehelp met lekker drankies wat ek dadelik as redelike sterk rum mengeldrankies kon uitken. Die teoloë het lekker gekuier en is die volgende aand terug vir ‘n opvolgbesoek. Die organiseerders van ons besoek kon egter ‘n paar kaartjies na die Springsteen konsert reël en ek en ‘n paar kollegas het besluit ons gaan eerder soontoe, Sampie inkluis. Was ons verbasing groot toe ons op pad konsert toe Sampie hoor vra: “Wie is Bruce Sprinsteen?” Ons het die aand baie geniet, Sampie seker by sy eerste en enigste rock konsert.

Hy mag nie veel van popmusiek weet nie, maar van sport, veral rugby en krieket, weet Sampie baie. Ek glo nie hy was ooit self ‘n bedrewe sportman nie, maar sy belangstelling in sport was aansteeklik. Ek herinner my menige Maandagoggende wat hy en kollega Pierre de Villiers indringend die vorige Saterdag se wedstryd van WP bespreek het, en Sampie kon altyd ‘n akkurate terugskou lewer oor waar dinge reg of verkeerd verloop het. 

Op 17 April vier Sampie Terrebalche sy tagtigste verjaarsdag, maar sy vuur is lank nog nie geblus nie. Hy skryf steeds en sal vanjaar sy elfde boek die lig laat sien. Min mense kan hom dit nadoen.


Prof. emeritus Willie Esterhuyse, kollega en vriend - Sampie, my Voltaire-vriend

 Daar word soms gesê dat Italië die Renaissance en Duitsland die Hervorming gehad het. Frankryk het Voltaire gehad, ‘n kritikus by uitnemendheid wat die fondasies van die establishment op ‘n meedoënlose en onverskrokke manier ondermyn het om te bepaal of dit stewig en aanvaarbaar was.

Ek dink aan Voltaire as ek aan Sampie dink. Suid-Afrika, haar universiteite, geloofsbewegings, skrywers, intellektuele en dies meer het baie kritiese geeste opgelewer. Ons land – en Stellenbosch – het ook vir Sampie gehad. Ek ken hom vanaf 1974. Trouens hy en Hennie Rossouw was daarvoor verantwoordelik dat ek en Annemarie ‘n huis in dieselfde straat as die Terreblanche-gesin gekoop het.

Die sewentigers en veral tagtigerjare was ontstuimige jare in ons land se geskiedenis. In 1976 het die swart jeug van Suid-Afrika in skole en strate met gebalde vuiste, brandende motorbande, stokke en klippe standpunt ingeneem: genoeg is genoeg. Apartheid moet vernietig word. Dit was ‘n keerpunt.   Ek onthou dat ek, hy en Hennie in sy huis in Rowanstraat gesit en praat het. Aldrie van ons was hoogs bekommerd, selfs bedruk. Ons het gewonder: “Wat hou die toekoms vir ons kinders in?”.

Dit was Sampie wat gesê het: “Wat van die swart mense se kinders? Hulle toekoms? Ons moet iets doen!”.

Dié gesprek, en Sampie se vraag – met ‘n diep frons op sy voorkop as beklemtoning van die erns van die saak – was een van die redes waarom ek my jare later by die Stedelike Stigting aangesluit het.

Sampie se vraag: “Wat van swart mense se kinders?” het my om verskeie redes uiters onrustig gestem. Die belangrikste hiervan was die wete dat die toekoms van my kinders asook die toekoms van my land nie deur koeëls en kruit bepaal sal word nie, maar deur gehalte skole en gehalte-onderwys.

Sampie se grootste bydrae tot my lewe? Vrae wat my maatskaplik-ekonomiese en politiek-morele bewussyn beroer het. My verhoed het om in die web van sekerhede vasgestrengel te raak. Soos wat Voltaire dit ook gedoen het.  


Prof. Anton van Niekerk, kollega en vriend

Op 17 April 2013 word Solomon Johannes (Sampie) Terreblance, emeritus professor in ekonomie aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch, 80 jaar oud. Sedert die sewentigerjare van die vorige eeu (dus meer as vyf dekades) is die intellektuele, en veral ekonomiese inskatting van Suid-Afrika se sosio-politieke bestel onvoorstelbaar sonder die volgehoue stem van hierdie herout van die Afrikaner se sosiale gewete. Met goeie reg is die eredoktorsgraad wat hy ‘n aantal jare gelede van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat ontvang het, die afgelope week opgevolg met nog so ‘n graad van die Universiteit van Pretoria.

Van die Engelse filosoof Francis Bacon is meermale gesê dat hy gedien het as “the trumpeter of his time”. Hoewel Terreblanche op ‘n heel ander terrein as Bacon sy bydrae gelewer het, bly dié uitdrukking by my steek as tiperend van Sampie. Hy was nooit ‘n aktiewe politikus nie en het nooit ‘n wet deur die parlement gevoer nie. Maar sy kompromielose stem van protes teen die diepgewortelde, skryende, institusionele ongeregtigheid van Suid-Afrika se sosio-politieke en veral ekonomiese orde het oor die jare getrompetter in die verhaal van ons uiteindelike wegdraai van die waansin van apartheid en in die rigting van ‘n meer regverdige samelewing.

Nie dat Sampie ‘n vlekkelose verlede in hierdie verband het nie – wie, wat wit en ouer as 40 is in hierdie land, het? Gebore op Kroonstad  op 17 April 1933 (toevallig die geboortejaar van ‘n aantal invloedryke Afrikaner-intellektuele), word hy groot op Edenburg en is van huis uit ‘n produk van die Vrystaat.  Hy studeer op Stellenbosch waar hy sy meesters- en doktorsgrade verwerf, en spandeer die akademiese jaar van 1968/69 te Harvard in die VSA. Hy was vir agt jaar ‘n dosent in ekonomie aan die Universiteit van die Vrystaat, voordat hy in 1968 permanent op Stellenbosch aangestel is. Met sy aftrede in 1995 was hy die mees senior professor aan die US.

Daarna het nog omtrent 15 jaar van verdere klasgee in ‘n tydelike hoedanigheid op hom gewag.  Dit kan sonder vrees vir teenspraak beweer word dat hy een van die mees geliefde, maar terselfdertyd kontroversiële, opruiende en moedswillige dosente was wat die US nog ooit opgelewer het. Wat hy doseer het, was die geskiedenis van ekonomiese denke. Daarmee het hy die denke help vorm van ‘n aantal geslagte studente wat ekonomie aan die US geloop het. Dat hy “hulle denke gevorm het”, beteken allermins dat hulle almal met hom saamgestem het. Daar was altyd ‘n groep in Sampie se klasse wat woedend was vir die wyse waarop hy hulle gevestigde idees uitgedaag het. Maar daarmee het hy juis gedoen wat ‘n goeie dosent doen: om nie klakkelose napraters te produseer nie, maar mense wat vir hulself leer dink, en wat, ook al het hulle hoe skerp van hierdie uitdagende leermeester verskil, gedwing is om goeie redes te probeer vind vir hul eie posisies. As dosent was en is Sampie ‘n legende. Dat hy soveel jare na aftrede sy kursus bly aanbied het, wys eenvoudig dat die Ekonomiedepartement op Stellenbosch – een van die grootstes aan die universiteit – hom net nie kon laat gaan nie.

Maar Sampie se rol is in ‘n veel wyer konteks in Suid-Afrika gespeel as bloot in die klaskamer. Ek het hom in 1971 ontmoet as ‘n matriekseun tydens ‘n veelbewoë jeugkongres van SABRA (Die Suid-Afrikaanse Buro vir Rasse-aangeleenthede, ‘n destyds bekende dink-tenk van die nasionale regering) op Robertson. Die kongres het opspraak verwek vanweë ‘n toespraak van prof. Gerrit Viljoen, toe voorsitter van die Broederbond en rektor van RAU, waarin hy hom sterk uitgespreek het ten gunste van die ondersoek van die idee van ‘n “Kleurlingtuisland”. Die idee het ‘n vroeë dood gesterf, mede as gevolg van Terreblance se ernstige en openlike verset daarteen.

Later dieselfde dekade is Terreblanche aangewys as lid van die (Erika) Theronkommissie wat die sosiaal-ekonomiese en politieke posisie van die bruinmense moes ondersoek. Terreblanche het in hierdie kommissie veral naam gemaak as skrywer van die befaamde hoofstuk 22, wat gehandel het oor die ekonomiese posisie van die sogenaamde “kleurlinge” – wat, in daardie jare (soos op baie plekke vandag steeds) haglik was. Terreblanche knoop sy vlymskerp analises aan die begrip “chroniese gemeenskapsarmoede” – ook die titel van ‘n boek van hom wat later verskyn het. Hy beklemtoon hoedat armoede, wat die speerpunt van die immoraliteit van apartheid was, ‘n ganse gemeenskap in die ban kan slaan en mense se moed en wil om daaruit te breek, hoe langer hoe meer afstomp namate hulle sosiaal gekondisoneer word om arm te wees. Hierdie werk het Terreblance, wat tot in daardie stadium ‘n lojale Nasionale Partyondersteuner was, in botsing gebring met die eerste minister, mnr BJ Vorster.

Sampie se finale breuk met die NP het gekom na die verklarings wat uitgereik is deur “Besprekingsgroep 85” (wat Sampie gestig het en deurentyd die voorsitter van was, met myself as sekretaris). Die groep het twee ontmoetings met pres. PW Botha gehad. Botha se onversetlikheid oor die kwessie van volle politieke regte vir swartmense in die sentrale regering, sowel as oor die volgehoue aanhouding van Nelson Mandela, het die breuk met die NP onafwendbaar gemaak. Sampie het gevolglik ook ‘n prominente rol gespeel in die veldtogte van die onafhanklike kandidate (Dennis Worral, Wynand Malan en Esther Lategan) in 1987. Mnr Chris Heunis, ‘n goeie vriend van Sampie, se naelskraapse oorwinning van 39 stemme in Helderberg teen Worral, het ‘n onherstelbare stremming op hul verdere vriendskap geplaas. In die laat tagtigerjare is Terreblanche ook genooi om deel te wees van die afvaardiging wat onder leiding van Willie Esterhuyse verkennende samesprekings met die ANC in die buiteland gevoer het, en so die weg help baan het vir die onderhandelinge wat later sou volg.

Sampie se stem in die Suid-Afrikaanse debat het nog sedert daardie jare nooit stil geword nie. Hy is en bly ‘n kontroversiële figuur – nie net wanneer hy klasgee nie, maar veral ookm as hy skryf. Die vernaamste rede daarvoor is sy volgehoue kritiek op die kapitalisme – die “narrre ding”, soos hy dit met sy kenmerkende rollende r’e beskryf. ‘n Sluitstuk van sy analise van die apartheidsbestel is sy idee dat apartheid (veral in die latere fases) intakt gehou is vanweë ‘n bose sameswering met kapitalisme – ten koste van die armes. Die aanbreek van die nuwe Suid-Afrika het geensins sy kritiese stem uitgedoof nie.  Wat hom in sy latere werk teen die bors stuit, is die wyse waarop die nuwe bewindhebbers in Suid-Afrika opnuut gekaap is deur kapitaliste, en dat ‘n meer regverdige herverdeling van rykdom also verhinder word.

Nie almal stem met hierdie analises saam nie. Maar ’n mens kan nie op ‘n werklik ingeligte manier oor hierdie land se ekonomiese uitdagings dink sonder om jouself deeglik te verantwoord oor Terreblanche se posisie nie. Hy bly ‘n onontwykbare verwysingspunt in terme waarvan  enige ekonomiese analise van die land sigself moet oriënteer – al verskil ‘n mens inhoudelik hoeveel ook van hom.

Op die persoonlike vlak is Sampie een van die mees onderhoudende geselsers wat ek die voorreg het om te ken. Die rede daarvoor is veral sy ensiklopediese kennis van die geskiedenis en sy vermoë om beduidende datums en historiese gebeure te onthou. Ek sluit daarom af met die boeiendste verhaal wat hy my ooit vertel het. Hy het naamlik as 16-jarige, vurig-nasionalistiese Voortrekker-verkenner die inwyding van die Voortrekkermonument op 16 Desember 1949 bygewoon, waar dr Malan sy beroemde “Quo vadis?” toespraak gelewer het. Wat egter ten onregte meesal vergeet word, is dat general Smuts, wat 18 maande gelede die verkiesing verloor het, ná  dr. Malan gepraat het. Smuts is uiters disrespekvol deur ‘n groot groep in die gehoor (‘n kwartmiljoen mense) behandel; mense het naamlik in groot getalle begin padgee en uitloop, smalend sodat hy (Smuts) dit duidelik kon sien. Die seremoniemeester, dr EG Jansen, moes, om die situasie te probeer red, die mikrofoon in ‘n stadium by Smuts neem en ‘n beroep op die mense doen om nie almal te loop nie, “anders sal daar niemand oorbly om na my te luister as ek die bedankings later moet doen nie”!

Sampie vertel dan dat as jy vandag weer daardie toespraak van Smuts lees, en jou oë toemaak, is dit asof jy vir FW de Klerk in die 90er jare hoor: “kom ons soek die dinge wat ons verbind, en nie wat ons skei nie; kom ons begin ‘n groot indaba oor die toekoms”, ensovoorts.

“Ja”, sug Sampie dan,”sê nou net Smuts het in 1948 gewen. Hoe sou Suid-Afrika vandag gelyk het…?”

Prof. emeritus Lourens du Plessis, regskollega en vriend

Ek het Sampie leer ken tydens my twee dekades as regsprofessor op Stellenbosch, vanaf 1987 tot 2011.  Anders as ‘n skaar van bevoorregte studente oor baie jare, kan ek nie op my CV skryf dat dié legendariese professor my onderrig het of dat ek onder sy leiding nagraads studeer het nie. Hy is ‘n leermeester oor wie en met wie studente maklik kommunikeer en as jy hom eers aan die gesels kry oor sake van die dag of kwessies wat hom na aan die hart lê (en by Sampie is daar nie juis ‘n verskil tussen die twee nie) sit hy nie maklik ‘n wag voor sy mond nie. Ek onthou byvoorbeeld ‘n geleentheid waar hy ‘n groep buitengewoon begaafde, besoekende Amerikaanse studente aan sy lippe laat hang het met sy goed gemotiveerde diagnoses van die akute en chroniese mankemente van liberale kapitalisme.  Sampie is die een wat (onopsetlik en onwetend) my as ‘n reeds relatief gevestigde akademikus gehelp het om die laaste konseptuele hindernisse op die pad na sosiaal-demokratiese denke te oorkom. In die oë van baie is hy ‘n “boerekommunis”.  Vir my is hy ‘n baie gesofistikeerde analis – met ‘n passie vir en besorgdheid oor die lot van sy agtergestelde landgenote en ander lydendes wêreldwyd.

Almal wat Sampie ken, weet hoe ekspressief en driftig hy soms kan word.  Ek onthou ‘n keer waar hy voor ‘n gehoor verwys het na die “kruipende armoede” wat besig was om die “galoppende armoede” te word – en soos dikwels met Sampie het sy hele liggaam saamgepraat sonder om op ‘n nar-agtige manier sy waardigheid te kompromitteer.

Sampie is ‘n entoesiastiese gespreksgenoot en waar hy aan ‘n eettafel ‘n gas is, kan niemand ooit van verveling kla nie. Gesprekke met Sampie is konstruktief. Selfs sy grappe is nie sommer maar net snaaks nie maar is deurdrenk van slim humor.

Sampie het ‘n benydenswaardig lewendige en lewenskragtige historiese geheue. Mens sien dit onder meer in sy vermoë om, dag en datum, gebeurtenisse van weleer akkuraat te herroep en persoonlikhede wat nie meer met ons is nie te laat herleef.  So skep hy ‘n konteks wat ons help om die geskiedenis van ‘n eie leefwêreld wat ons maak (en nog moet maak) beter te begryp en te antisipeer.  Ek het hoë agting vir Sampie as historikus en ek glo dat sy belangstelling in die politiek sterk aangewakker word deur sy vaardighede en voorliefdes as historikus.

Ek het op ‘n Stellenbosch aangekom in die tydvak waarin op politieke gebied die “verligtes” en die “oorbeligtes” die strydbyle aan’t begrawe was.  Van die detail van die (politieke) botsings tussen verligte nasionaliste wat geneem het die Nasionale Party-regering kan en moet “van binne” hervorm word en die oorbeligtes wat ‘n demokrasie met gelyke regte vir almal voorgestaan het, weet ek hoofsaaklik van hoorsê.

Die verligtes was jarelank die leidende politieke establishment in Stellenbosch met Sampie Terreblanche, toe nog ‘n stoere nasionalis, as een van die leidende figure in hierdie geledere.  Die oorbeligtes het, anders as die verligtes, nie die oor van belangrike persoonlikhede in die regering  gehad nie.

Die verhaal van hoedat in die verkiesing van 1987 prominente figure uit verligte en oorbeligte geledere in Stellenbosch besluit het om hande te vat om die sittende NP volksraadslid te probeer ontsetel, is algemeen bekend.  Dit was in hierdie periode  wat Sampie sy bande met die Nasionale Party establishment verbreek het.  Soos sy geaardheid is, het hy hierdie oorgang geesdriftig en met oortuiging gemaak en sterk morele moed aan die dag gelê. Ek het hom by verskillende geleenthede in die openbaar en in privaatgesprekke hoor sê – en hy doen dit nou nog – dat sy politieke keuses en optrede vir baie jare lank fundamenteel verkeerd was en dat sy oë nodig gehad het om oop te gaan om werklik te kon raaksien hoedat sy mededaderskap aan apartheid miljoene landgenote benadeel.

Sampie, die boetvaardige, is egter nie ‘n goedkoop sentimentalis nie. Altyd sal sy ywer vir die saak van ‘n regverdiger Suid-Afrika en wêreld dít wat hy sê en dink inspireer, en sy luisteraars tot aksie aanspoor.  Dit is ‘n voorreg om so ‘n vriend te hê en sy tagtigste verjaardag saam met hom te kan herdenk!

"'n Gedugte vegter was Sampie Terreblanche"

Gedig deur Sampie se getroue vriende Hennie en Leonora Rossouw