Pik Botha dies, aged 86
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