Pik Botha, last foreign minister of apartheid South Africa
Pik Botha, the last foreign minister of South Africa’s apartheid era and a contradictory figure who staunchly defended white minority rule but eventually recognised that change was inevitable, has died aged 86.
Mr Botha died in “the early hours of the morning” at his home after an illness, his son, Roelof, told South Africa’s eNCA news outlet.
Internationally, Mr Botha was the most visible representative of apartheid at the height of protests and sanctions against the racist rule that ended with Nelson Mandela’s election as the country’s first black president in 1994. As such, the longtime foreign minister was vilified around the world while drawing the ire of his own boss, President PW Botha, when he said in 1986 that South Africa might one day have a black leader.
Pik Botha, who was not related to the apartheidera president, later served as minister of mineral and energy affairs under Mr Mandela, and said in 2000 that he would join the African National Congress, the ruling party that had led the movement against white minority rule for decades.
By that time, however, Mr Botha was no longer active in politics.
He made few public comments in recent years during the scandal-marred tenure of former president Jacob Zuma, who resigned in February.
Mr Botha was “absolutely delighted” when Cyril Ramaphosa, a key ANC negotiator during the transition to democratic rule in the early 1990s, replaced Mr Zuma as South Africa’s leader, Mr Botha’s son said.
Mr Botha was foreign minister from 1977 until the end of apartheid in 1994.
Pik Botha has died aged 86.