Apartheid re­former Botha dies at 86

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - JO­HAN­NES­BURG:

Pik Botha, who be­came the global face of South Africa’s re­viled apartheid govern­ment as its fi­nal for­eign min­is­ter, has died at the age of 86 af­ter a long ill­ness.

His son Piet told News24 that his father died in his sleep on Thurs­day night. “His wife Ina was with him un­til the end,” he said. “He was very sick dur­ing the last three weeks and his body just couldn’t take it anymore.’’

Mr Botha, for­eign min­is­ter from 1977 un­til the end of white rule in 1994, was seen as a re­former in the Na­tional Party ad­min­is­tra­tions he served un­der. In 1986 he pre­dicted South Africa might one day have a black pres­i­dent, which earned him a stern re­buke from Pres­i­dent PW Botha, who was no re­la­tion.

“As long as we can agree in a suit­able way on the pro­tec­tion of mi­nor­ity rights with­out a racial sting … then it would pos­si­bly be­come un­avoid­able that in fu­ture you might have a black pres­i­dent of this coun­try,” he said, eight years be­fore Nel­son Man­dela be­came pres­i­dent.

Mr Botha had the un­en­vi­able job of de­fend­ing apartheid on the world stage as South Africa grew iso­lated, fac­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions abroad while im­pos­ing a state of emer­gency at home and at­tempt­ing to desta­bilise its African neigh­bours. He was de­scribed by some as a “good man work­ing for a bad govern­ment”.

Re­garded as a skilled be­hindthe-scenes ne­go­tia­tor who loos­ened ad­ver­saries up over rounds of drinks, Mr Botha’s ac­com­plish­ments in­cluded se­cur­ing a peace pro­to­col that ended South Africa’s mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in An­gola, and help­ing to pave the way for the in­de­pen­dence of Namibia in 1990.

Af­ter Man­dela be­came South Africa’s first black pres­i­dent in 1994, Mr Botha served as min­er­als min­is­ter for two years in a govern­ment of na­tional unity.

“As you know, orig­i­nally we were en­e­mies,” he told the BBC in 2013. “From our point of view, (Man­dela) led an or­gan­i­sa­tion which we re­garded as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion and they saw them­selves as free­dom fight­ers. “Of course all that had to change. It is not al­ways that sim­ple and easy to change … mind­sets but even­tu­ally it did change. He played the role of a saviour.”


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