Former president FW de Klerk sought to remind the world on Monday that he helped abolish apartheid, following criticism over comments he made last week.
"May I remind everybody that it was me, together with the fellow leaders of the National Party, who abolished apartheid on 2 February 1990," he said in Cape Town.
"Why would I have nostalgia for that which I abolished and for that which I apologised? I don't want to get into the twisted interpretation of what I've said."
De Klerk was speaking at the opening of The Scoin Shop in the city.
He said that he was optimistic about the country's future, despite many "challenges".
These included the lagging growth rate and high unemployment rate, he said.
"We know that our education system is in a crisis, we know that people are protesting in the streets about bad delivery, so we're not in a good place in the socio-economic sense of the word.
"Fortunately, we are implementing well-balanced economics, macro-economic policies and I'm not a pessimist at all," he said.
"What is wrong in South Africa can be put right and I think that it's time we all join hands, stop shouting at each other and we work together to improve things."
The remarks that raised the ire of many were made during an interview with De Klerk at a summit of Nobel laureates in Chicago on Thursday nigh.
Asked whether he agreed that apartheid was morally repugnant, De Klerk said: "In as much as it trampled human rights it was, and remains, morally indefensible."
De Klerk then reportedly said about the homeland system: "But the concept of giving, as the Czechs have it now, and the Slovaks have it, of saying that ethnic unity with one culture with one language [everyone] can be happy and can fulfil their democratic aspirations in an own state, that is not repugnant."
He reportedly denied that blacks in the homelands were disenfranchised.
"They were not disenfranchised, they voted. They were not put in homelands, the homelands were historically there. If only the developed world would put so much money into Africa, which is struggling with poverty, as we poured into those homelands. How many universities were built? How many schools?" he asked.
"At that stage the goal was separate but equal, but separate but equal failed." He said he later became "a convert" against the system.