Pik Botha one of 'leading personalities in SA politics' - De Klerk

Pik Botha

"Perhaps his most important contribution, was the manner in which he and his colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs held the line against growing worldwide pressure until the collapse of global communism in 1989 opened the way to the negotiations that led to the establishment of our nonracial constitutional democracy".

Stalwart politician Pik Botha will be remembered as a good person, in a bad system, according to head of the Inkatha Freedom Party Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Botha, who came from the party's "verligte" (enlightened) wing, attempted to get PW Botha to accept greater political rights for black South Africans and outraged the apartheid establishment when he stated publicly that the country would one day have a black president.

"As long as we can agree in a suitable way on the protection of minority rights without a racial sting ... then it would possibly become unavoidable that in future you might have a black president of this country", he said.

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's former Foreign Minister Pik Botha speaks to the press during an interview in Pretoria, South Africa, August 28, 1997.

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His son, Piet Botha confirmed to South African media that his father died in his sleep during the night.

He had several clashes with the hardline government of president PW Botha, who was no relation.

He worked to build a coalition of African states that would work with the apartheid regime‚ but was ultimately unsuccessful as the continent turned on the apartheid state.

He served as a minister in Mr Mandela's first post-apartheid government, praising the president as a healing figure.

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