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Botha's steps forward did not come from goodness of heart

By unknown | Nov 03, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The death of South Africa's second-last apartheid state president, PW Botha, has drawn various responses, especially in the political arena.

The death of South Africa's second-last apartheid state president, PW Botha, has drawn various responses, especially in the political arena.

In his condolences 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."

Botha was the first National Party leader to meet the imprisoned Mandela at Tuynhuis. The visit set rolling several other contacts that eventually led to negotiations between the ruling party and the liberation movement.

What is misleading about this background is the impression that Botha made the initiatives out of the goodness of his heart.

The reality is that international pressure, coupled with the sanctions imposed on South Africa, as well as the internal struggles waged by the oppressed, led to him realise the futility of white rule.

Even more misleading is the assertion by his successor, FW de Klerk, and by Pik Botha, the long-serving minister of foreign affairs, that PW was not a racist.

To support his assertion De Klerk pointed out that Botha made provision "for the participation of Indians and coloureds through the tricameral constitution in 1983 and he searched unsuccessfully for ways of involving black South Africans in government".

What De Klerk fails to explain is that the tricameral system was a half-baked racist system through which Indians would rule Indians, and coloureds would rule coloureds. It was, in fact, a replication of the homeland system under which blacks were divided into ethnic groups that could rule themselves.

Ironically all these "tribes" had no political authority over matters such as the military and foreign affairs.

Contrary to what De Klerk wants us to believe, the tricameral and homeland systems were racist political ploys aimed at putting the oppressed majority in their place.

These plans were concocted by racist leaders such as PW.

That he never had any respect for the new non-racial dispensation is shown by his refusal to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission found that, under Botha, the security forces inflicted abominable human rights abuses on the oppressed majority with political impunity.

For those who seem to suffer from temporary amnesia when it comes to who Botha was, here is an excerpt from a speech he made on August 18 1985 to his cabinet:

"Pretoria has been made by the white mind for the white man. We are not obliged in the least to try to prove to anybody, and to the blacks, that we are superior people. We have demonstrated that to the blacks in a thousand and one ways ...

"We do not pretend like other whites that we like blacks. The fact that blacks look like human beings and act like human beings does not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike.

"If God wanted us to be equal to the blacks he would have created us all of uniform colour and intellect. But he created us differently: whites, blacks, yellow; rulers and the ruled.

"Intellectually we are superior to the blacks: that has been proved beyond reasonable doubt over the years.

"I believe that an Afrikaner is an honest God-fearing person who has demonstrated practically the right way of being ...

"It is our strong conviction, therefore, that the black is the raw material of the white man.

"So, brothers and sisters, let us join together to fight against this black devil."

May the soul of PW Botha rest in peace.


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