In the words of Pik Botha...

Former NP min­is­ter played ‘mas­sive’ role in peace­ful po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - MAR­ION SCHER

‘Colour­ful’ aparthei­dera for­eign min­is­ter served Na­tional Party and ANC

Pik Botha, who served as for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter un­der three apartheid pres­i­dents be­fore be­com­ing min­is­ter of min­eral and en­ergy af­fairs in Nel­son Man­dela’s govern­ment of na­tional unity was a colour­ful per­son­al­ity who made friends – and en­e­mies – across the spec­trum through­out his long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

Botha died at the age of 86 in Pre­to­ria on Thurs­day evening.

As for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter in the cab­i­nets of apartheid pres­i­dents BJ Vorster and PW Botha, Botha fought a los­ing bat­tle to per­suade the world that the pol­icy was not a fun­da­men­tal vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.

He es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship with US sec­re­tary of state Henry Kissinger and man­aged to in­flu­ence then US pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan and Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher to op­pose sanc­tions against SA.

He worked to build a coali­tion of African states that would work with the apartheid regime, but this was ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful as the con­ti­nent turned on the apartheid Botha, who came from the party’s “verligte” (en­light­ened) wing, at­tempted to get PW Botha to ac­cept greater po­lit­i­cal rights for black South Africans and out­raged the apartheid es­tab­lish­ment when he stated pub­licly that the coun­try would one day have a black pres­i­dent.

His great­est diplo­matic achieve­ment was the suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion of in­de­pen­dence for Namibia, a se­ries of talks that in­volved Cuba and the US.

Botha re­tired from pol­i­tics in 1996 when the Na­tional Party with­drew from the govern­ment of na­tional unity, and later joined the ANC.

Former pres­i­dent FW de Klerk said Botha’s con­tri­bu­tion to the peace­ful set­tle­ment in SA was im­mense.

“He was a unique and colour­ful per­son­al­ity who made an enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to the peace­ful and con­sti­tu­tional res­o­lu­tion of the great his­toric chal­lenges with which we had to wres­tle be­fore 1994‚” De Klerk said in a state­ment re­leased by his foun­da­tion.

De Klerk said Botha’s “colour­ful style and forth­right rhetoric” won him wide­spread pop­u­lar­ity among the white elec­torate and had also en­cour­aged him‚ in 1978 and 1989‚ to stand as a can­di­date for the lead­er­ship of the Na­tional Party.

He said Botha’s most im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion was the man­ner in which he and his col­leagues in the de­part­ment of for­eign af­fairs “held the line” against grow­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure – un­til the col­lapse of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nism in 1989 opened the way to the ne­go­ti­a­tions that led to the es­tab­lish­ment of a non-racial con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.

De Klerk said Botha was a “prom­i­nent and con­sis­tent” ad­vo­cate of re­form when dis­cus­sions within the NP lead­er­ship in the 1980s took place over whether to re­lease Man­dela from prison.

Botha was one of the strongest pro­po­nents of the con­sti­tu­tional trans­for­ma­tion process that was ini­ti­ated in 1990. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said Botha had been a bold ne­go­tia­tor and an in­tel­li­gent op­po­nent.

Holomisa said Botha was one of few NP lead­ers who op­posed apartheid.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said Botha would be re­mem­bered for his sup­port for the coun­try’s tran­si­tion to democ­racy.

ANC spokesper­son Pule Mabe said Botha was one of few NP lead­ers who re­alised at an early stage that apartheid was wrong and a crime against hu­man­ity. Mabe said: “We ac­knowl­edge him for his pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion towards build­ing a new and bet­ter South Africa. May his soul rest in peace.”

Mabe said although noth­ing had been con­firmed as yet‚ Botha’s funeral would likely take place dur­ing the week of Oc­to­ber 22 as “there will most prob­a­bly be quite a num­ber of peo­ple fly­ing in from all parts of the world”.

Botha leaves his sec­ond wife‚ Ina‚ four chil­dren and eight grand­chil­dren. –DDC

South Africa’s apartheid-era for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter Pik Botha died at the age of 86 at his home in Pre­to­ria on Thurs­day night.

The former politi­cian shared his views on cli­mate change‚ the power of women‚ and Nel­son Man­dela’s le­gacy in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in Au­gust 2011.

Here‚ from our ar­chives‚ is the story with 15 quotes that summed up his think­ing.

Roelof Fred­erik Botha is known in­ter­na­tion­ally as the world’s long­est-serv­ing min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs. Botha is a po­lit­i­cal sur­vivor who served un­der po­lit­i­cal lead­ers as ide­o­log­i­cally dif­fer­ent as B J Vorster and Nel­son Man­dela. But there’s an­other side to this larger-than-life char­ac­ter – philoso­pher‚ am­a­teur ge­ol­o­gist‚ poet‚ writer‚ proud father and grand­fa­ther . . .

● Life goes by in a flash‚ it’s hard to grasp the con­cept of time. Af­ter all‚ what’s an en­tity with no begin­ning or end – the mind bog­gles.

● The church didn’t like my the­o­ries on the ori­gins of man – af­ter all‚ for more than 1,000 years they re­pressed all knowl­edge of it. I find it amaz­ing that even to­day peo­ple can doubt evo­lu­tion or Dar­win. And I still can’t un­der­stand how churches pre­clude women from the same po­si­tions as men. I think they’re afraid of women.

● Speaking your mind isn’t a bad thing. There were many times when I made my­self un­pop­u­lar with my words. In 1970‚ in my maiden speech in par­lia­ment‚ I urged the then Na­tional Party to subscribe to the Univer­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights. I wasn’t al­lowed to speak in Par­lia­ment for al­most two years af­ter that.

● In 1986‚ af­ter I said dur­ing an in­ter­view that we could have a black pres­i­dent in the fu­ture‚ I was se­verely rep­ri­manded and al­most fired. But within the party the re­morse in hearts and minds was grow­ing and soon be­came in­tol­er­a­ble‚ cou­pled with our ac­knowl­edge­ment that if we per­pet­u­ate apartheid‚ in­evitably it would re­sult in the de­struc­tion of the coun­try.

● Nel­son Man­dela’s le­gacy must never be for­got­ten. I first met Nel­son Man­dela at the his­toric meet­ing be­tween the former govern­ment and the ANC at Groote Schuur on May 2 1990. I couldn’t be­lieve his re­mark­ably thor­ough knowl­edge of Afrikaner his­tory‚ the pain and suf­fer­ing of the women and chil­dren who died in con­cen­tra­tion camps and the poverty that fol­lowed. He asked me a ques­tion I was never able to an­swer. Why‚ when the Afrikaner started re­cov­er­ing from his dev­as­ta­tion‚ didn’t he reach out to his fel­low black South Africans‚ who were equally im­pov­er­ished‚ de­graded and sub­ju­gated? He said this with­out ran­cour or en­mity.

● There’s a big­ger threat to the world than any war to­day – cli­mate change. This is a more lethal threat than even the Cold War‚ where the world was faced with nu­clear bombs.

● Peo­ple should ap­pre­ci­ate women for their beauty and their power. Few women know how much power they wield. The way they speak‚ walk‚ and be­have – it’s very ap­peal­ing. It’s the com­bi­na­tion of hair‚ eyes and lips. That’s a make-or-break pic­ture‚ dan­ger­ous‚ en­chant­ing.

● I knew some very pow­er­ful women in pol­i­tics – the cheeky young He­len Suz­man and‚ of course‚ the one and only Evita Bezuiden­hout. I’ve been dou­bly blessed by hav­ing had two amaz­ing women in my life‚ my late wife, He­lena, and my wife to­day, Ina – I don’t de­serve them.

● Re­tire­ment gives you time to en­joy your fam­ily. I re­gret the time I spent away from my fam­ily – you can never get that back. But now it’s en­rich­ing to spend time with them. I’m try­ing to make up for what I’ve lost.

● My chil­dren are all so dif­fer­ent. From my el­dest son‚ Roelof‚ who’s a doc­tor of eco­nom­ics‚ to Pi­eter‚ a rock mu­si­cian and my artis­tic daugh­ters‚ pho­tog­ra­pher Lien and artist Anna. I’m very proud of them all.

● Your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren are your great­est as­set in life.

● This coun­try must be­long to all peo­ple. In 1998 I came around from a prostate can­cer op­er­a­tion to find Pres­i­dent Man­dela stand­ing next to my bed in ICU. He told me not to worry‚ to re­lax – get well and carry on. He’s driven by the re­al­i­sa­tion that we need one an­other to make this coun­try a suc­cess.

● When we sat down to ne­go­ti­a­tions be­fore 1994 we agreed that steps would have to be taken to as­sist the pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged in ed­u­ca­tion‚ health ser­vices‚ agri­cul­ture and other fields‚ but to date of­fers of as­sis­tance have been ig­nored. There are peo­ple with a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence‚ in­clud­ing my­self‚ ready and will­ing to step in and help if re­quests were made.

● I’d be happy to sit with any­one‚ in­clud­ing Julius Malema‚ and help find so­lu­tions.

● I love rugby and played in the first team at high school in Potchef­stroom. But I don’t un­der­stand the emo­tions that peo­ple waste on the game. Win­ning doesn’t make you richer‚ poorer or more healthy. It re­minds me of cave­men fighting over their spoils – it’s a pri­mal urge. I tell my­self be­fore a big game I’m not go­ing to be up­set if we (Blue Bulls) lose – it’s a game and I’m lucky to be able to watch it. But I’d feel bet­ter if they won.



1997: Pik Botha shakes hands with Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu at the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.


1992: Then SA for­eign min­is­ter Pik Botha shakes hands with then An­golan pres­i­dent Jose Ed­uardo dos San­tos.

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