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'He was a bad-tempered,irate debater and a bully'

By unknown | Nov 02, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Tributes, condolences and some less-than-fond memories flowed yesterday as friends and foes marked the passing of PW Botha.

Tributes, condolences and some less-than-fond memories flowed yesterday as friends and foes marked the passing of PW Botha.

President Thabo Mbeki said it stood to his credit that Botha understood the futility of fighting against what was right and inevitable.

"On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, we express our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family," said Mbeki.

Former president Nelson Mandela said: "Though to many Mr Botha will remain a symbol of apartheid, we also remember him for the steps he took to pave the way towards the eventual peacefully negotiated settlement in our country."

His correspondence with Botha while in prison was an important part of the initial stages of the dismantling apartheid, as was Botha's agreement to a personal meeting with him at Tuynhuys, Mandela said.

Former state president FW de Klerk said: "I would like to convey my most sincere condolences to his family and friends.

"PW Botha was keenly aware of the need for reform in South Africa. He allowed free trade union activity and presided over the repeal of almost 100 discriminatory laws, including pass laws, the Immorality Act and the Mixed Marriages Act," said De Klerk.

"He made provision for Indian and Coloured participation in government through the tricameral constitution in 1983 and he searched unsuccessfully for ways of involving black South Africans in government."

It was under Botha's leadership that the government first made contact with Mandela and ANC leaders in exile, said De Klerk.

Veteran politician Helen Suzman said: "He was a bad-tempered, irate debater and a bully, and often very personal in his attacks.

"He accused me in parliament, immediately after Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated [in 1966], of having been responsible for it, together with, as he put it, 'the other liberals'. Notwithstanding, I do send condolences to his family," said Suzman.

DA leader Tony Leon said Botha would not be forgotten.

The ANC extended its condolences to Botha's family, friends and colleagues.

The Afrikanerbond said many facets of Botha's life were controversial but the organisation expressed its appreciation of his contribution.

The director-general in the presidency, Frank Chikane, visited Botha's widow, Barbara, yesterday.. She said her husband would be buried privately.

l See pages 12 and 13.


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