Pik Botha dies, aged 86

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News -

Former for­eign min­is­ter Roelof “Pik” Botha, whose long ca­reer in govern­ment strad­dled both the apartheid era and the pres­i­dency of Nel­son Man­dela, has died aged 86, his son said on Fri­day.

Botha served as for­eign min­is­ter for 17 years and joined Man­dela’s cabinet in 1994.

“As you know, orig­i­nally we were en­e­mies,” Botha 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 to change men­tal at­ti­tudes [and] mind­sets, but even­tu­ally it did change. He played the role of a saviour.”

Botha, seen as a lib­eral in the hard­line Na­tional Party, was de­scribed by some as a “good man work­ing for a bad govern­ment” un­der apartheid.

He man­aged to per­suade former US pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan and ex-Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher to op­pose sanc­tions against South Africa.

He had sev­eral clashes with pres­i­dent PW Botha, who was no re­la­tion.

In 1985, he drafted a speech that sug­gested Man­dela could be re­leased from prison – which did not hap­pen un­til 1990. He also said the coun­try could one day be ruled by a black pres­i­dent, earn­ing a pub­lic re­buke from his boss.

Botha later served as mines and en­ergy min­is­ter in Man- dela’s na­tional unity govern­ment be­fore re­tir­ing from pol­i­tics in 1996. Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said Botha would “be re­mem­bered for his sup­port for South Africa’s tran­si­tion to democ­racy and for his ser­vice in the first demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tion”. “We ac­knowl­edge and are ap­pre­cia­tive of his pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion towards build­ing a new and bet­ter South Africa,” the ANC said.

His nick­name “Pik” came from his sup­posed re­sem­blance to a penguin.

Funeral ar­range­ments have not been con­firmed. Botha leaves his sec­ond wife‚ Ina‚ four chil­dren and eight grand­chil­dren. – AFP, TimesLIVE

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