Mixed re­ac­tion to Pik Botha’s pass­ing in po­lit­i­cal arena


THE death of former for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter Pik Botha, pic­tured, has been met with mixed re­ac­tions from South Africans, with some la­belling him a de­fender of apartheid and oth­ers hail­ing the role he played in the tran­si­tion from the op­pres­sive regime to a demo­cratic South Africa.

Botha died at his Pre­to­ria home yes­ter­day morn­ing at the age of 86 fol­low­ing a lengthy ill­ness.

He had been hos­pi­talised towards the end of last month, although no rea­son was given for the hospi­tal­i­sa­tion.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said the man who was part of the Na­tional Party would be re­mem­bered for his sup­port for this coun­try’s lib­er­a­tion and for his ser­vice in the first demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Botha served as the min­is­ter of min­eral and en­ergy af­fairs in Nel­son Man­dela’s Cabinet be­tween 1994 and 1996.

The ANC also paid trib­ute to Botha, de­scrib­ing him as one of the few within the Na­tional Party who recog­nised at an early stage that apartheid was wrong and a crime against hu­man­ity.

“In the early days of our democ­racy, the ANC reached out to former apartheid ‘verligtes’ (the doves) like (Pik) Botha, within the con­text of build­ing a new South Africa and of­fered him a role in the Govern­ment of Na­tional Unity.

“While some of the apartheid ar­chi­tects con­tin­ued to un­der­mine the gains of democ­racy post-1994 by fuelling racial ten­sions, as a part of his newly found en­light­en­ment Botha joined the ANC in Tsh­wane in 2000,” ANC spokesper­son Pule Mabe said.

United Demo­cratic Move­ment leader Bantu Holomisa said Botha’s role in pres­suris­ing the Na­tional Party lead­er­ship to change for the bet­ter­ment of South Africa and its peo­ple was well-doc­u­mented.

Tourism Min­is­ter Derek Hanekom said he was sad­dened by Botha’s pass­ing, hav­ing spent two years sit­ting next to him in the first demo­cratic cabinet un­der Man­dela.

“I wish I kept all the scrib­bled notes he passed on to me. Great in­tel­lect, great sense of hu­mour, con­do­lences to the fam­ily,” Hanekom said.

Kim Heller, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, said that Botha was a key mas­ter in an evil, racist and op­pres­sive regime.

“He and other apartheid lead­ers have never been held to ac­count for this un­for­giv­able crime against hu­man­ity. That is what we should be mourn­ing to­day,” Heller said.

Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi tweeted: “This one called Pik Botha de­fended apartheid and de­layed our free­dom. He even died with­out telling us who engi­neered the death of com­rade Samora Machel. Don’t in­clude me in your praises.”

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