Apartheid-era foreign affairs minister Pik Botha has died

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Pik Botha, former South African foreign minister, listens to questions from members of the TRC (truth and reconciliation commission) 14 October at hearings in Johannesburg. Botha, once the world longest-serving foreign minister, was a member of the State Security Council, the inner sanctum of apartheid’s security apparatus devised to combat anti apartheid liberation movements and suspected of links to the killings of political activists. (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN / AFP)

Apartheid-era foreign affairs minister Pik Botha has died at the age of 86‚ it was confirmed on Friday.

His son‚ Roelof Botha‚ confirmed to eNCA that his father died at his Pretoria home on Thursday night. He was admitted to a Pretoria hospital in late September.

He served as foreign affairs minister in the last years of the apartheid government and as minister of mineral and energy affairs under Nelson Mandela‚ South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

Botha retired from politics in 1996 when the National Party withdrew from the government of national unity. In 2000‚ he announced that he would join the ANC.

BusinessLIVE reports that as foreign affairs minister in the cabinets of apartheid presidents BJ Vorster and PW Botha‚ Botha fought a losing battle to persuade the world that the policy was not a fundamental violation of human rights.

He established relationships with US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and managed to influence former US president Ronald Reagan and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher to oppose sanctions against SA.

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.

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.

Botha’s greatest diplomatic achievement was the successful negotiation of independence for Namibia‚ a series of talks that involved Cuba and the US.

Times Live