|Nationality South Africa|
Name Constand Viljoen
Succeeded by Pieter Mulder
|Spouse(s) Christina Heckroodt|
Party Freedom Front Plus
Role South African Politician
|President Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki|
Born 28 October 1933 (age 82) Standerton, Transvaal Province, Union of South Africa (1933-10-28)
Relations Braam Viljoen (Twin brother)
Organizations founded Freedom Front Plus, Afrikaner Volksfront
People also search for Pieter Mulder, Connie Mulder, Lourie Bosman
Battles and wars South African Border War
Political party Freedom Front Plus
1994 constand viljoen talks with bernie shaw cnn
Constand Viljoen (born 28 October 1933) is a former South African military commander and politician. He is partly credited with preventing the outbreak of armed violence by disaffected white South Africans prior to post-apartheid general elections. He is married to Christina Susanna Heckroodt and has four sons and a daughter.
- 1994 constand viljoen talks with bernie shaw cnn
- Operation savannah 40 year reunion generaal constand viljoen
- Military career
- Angolan service
- Political career
- Bophuthatswana action and decision to contest elections
- Post apartheid South Africa
- After retirement
- Awards and decorations
Operation savannah 40 year reunion generaal constand viljoen
Viljoen matriculated at Standerton High School in 1951. He joined South Africa's pre-republic Union Defence Force in 1956 upon receiving a degree in military science at the University of Pretoria. By 1974, Viljoen had been named the South African Army's Director of General Operations, subsequently serving as the Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of the South African Defence Force. He was appointed as Chief of the Army in 1977 and succeeded Magnus Malan as SADF chief in 1980.
Viljoen was the senior SADF military officer directing Operation Savannah in 1975. He is also credited with planning the first major airborne assault in South African military history, Cassinga, a raid carried out against SWAPO insurgents. Despite his rank, Viljoen was present during the battle, offering what was described as a "swashbuckling" front-line leadership, which won him the respect of many fellow Afrikaners.
Viljoen is credited by some with making overtures which helped lead to white South Africans' acceptance of universal suffrage and free elections, such as with his famous speech at the Broederbond annual assembly in Voortrekkerhoogte, saying of the Black South Africans in his army, As hulle kan veg vir Suid-Afrika, kan hulle stem vir Suid-Afrika! (Afrikaans: "If they can fight for South Africa, then they can vote for South Africa!").
In 1993, Viljoen and fellow retired generals formed the Afrikaner Volksfront (Afrikaner People's Front), an umbrella body for conservative Afrikaners. However, Viljoen reportedly had strained relationships with the leaders of other right-wing parties, who considered him too moderate.
Bophuthatswana action and decision to contest elections
Immediately prior to the 1994 elections Viljoen had a force of between 50,000 and 60,000 trained paramilitary personnel at his command, with the ability to seize large sections of the country. The force was assembled in preparation for war with Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress, as a potential contingency to protect Afrikaner interests.
In March 1994, Viljoen led an effort by several thousand Volksfront militia to protect bantustan president Lucas Mangope in Bophuthatswana against a coup d'état. Despite being requested not to participate in the action due to their extremist views, militants of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging also advanced into Bophuthatswana, sparking clashes with the security forces.
Immediately after the incident, Viljoen split from the Volksfront and initiated a legitimate election campaign, co-founding and becoming leader of the Freedom Front (Vryheidsfront), a new political party representing white conservatives. His decision to take part in the elections is believed to have prevented armed resistance by the far right and on the occasion of his retirement from politics the South African government recognised him for preventing bloodshed.
Viljoen's decision was at least partly influenced by the mediation of his identical twin brother, Abraham (Braam) Viljoen, who was an anti-apartheid activist while his brother led the military.
Post-apartheid South Africa
In the election, the Freedom Front, under the leadership of Viljoen, received 2.2% of the national vote and nine seats in the National Assembly. It became the strongest party outside Nelson Mandela's Government of National Unity. Although his supporters were at odds with the government and the ANC, Viljoen praised Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his retreat from politics in 1999, even ending his Parliamentary speech with an attempt at speaking in Mandela's native language, Xhosa: Go rest in peace. Go rest in the shadow of a tree at your home.
In 2001, Viljoen handed over the leadership of the Freedom Front to Pieter Mulder and retired from politics, citing his frustration working with a parliament dominated by the ANC.
In 2003, it emerged that Viljoen had been a target of the Boeremag paramilitary right-wing group, which considered him a traitor who had underhandedly sold out the Afrikaner people.
In 2008 Viljoen, aged 74, put up what was described as a spirited fight against two would-be muggers, who were subsequently arrested.