Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Pik Botha, apartheid-era minister, dies in South Africa

16 October 1994 Mangosuthu Buthelezi Nelson Mandela and Pik Botha attend a rally Pik Botha, apartheid-era minister, dies in South Africa
Deanna Wagner | 14 October, 2018, 03:06

His profile rose as he became an envoy to the United States and UN, then assumed the post of foreign minister in 1977, serving mainly under PW Botha, to whom he was not related and who died in 2006.

The former South African foreign minister died on Thursday night at a Pretoria hospital at the age of 86.

Despite his stern rhetoric, Mr Botha was regarded as a reformer, and with suspicion, by hardliners in his National Party.

Botha's son, Roelof, on Friday told South Africa's eNCA news outlet that his father died at his home after an illness.

Botha was a controversial figure during his long political career, initially defending and selling Apartheid to the worldwide community, but declaring his support for President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC in 2000.

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Botha had the unenviable job of defending apartheid on the world stage as South Africa grew increasingly isolated, facing economic sanctions overseas while imposing a state of emergency at home and attempting to destabilise its African neighbors.

After Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994, Botha served as minister of minerals and energy for two years in a government of national unity. Next to Botha, second from right is Roelf Meyer, chief government negotiator, and ANC's Secretary General Cyril Ramaphosa, right.

"Merely because you are riding on a plane doesn't mean that you agree with the pilot's decisions", Botha said in a 1996 interview with peace advocate Padraig O'Malley. Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma, the scandal-marred president who resigned.

In 1985, he drafted a speech that suggested Mr Mandela could be released from prison - which did not happen until 1990.

In April 1977, he was appointed minister of foreign affairs and represented the constituency of Westdene in Johannesburg. "Maybe I should have resigned and maybe I should have left politics, but I hung in there".