SA politicians react to Thatcher's death

The ANC extended its condolences to former British PM Margaret Thatcher’s family.

Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87 on 8 April, 2013. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's policies prolonged the life of the apartheid regime, the African National Congress (ANC) said on Monday.

The ANC said Thatcher's death on Monday signalled the end of a generation of leaders who ruled during a very difficult period.

The 'Iron Lady' died after suffering a stroke at the age of 87 on Monday morning.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said Thatcher's tenure as British Prime Minister redefined politics and public administration.

He said her impact would still be felt and her views would remain the subject of discussion long after her passing.

"We do acknowledge she was a very strong leader and her views dominated in politics for some time. We extend our condolences to her family, loved ones and the people of Britain that she once led."

But former foreign minister Pik Botha believed Thatcher was very much against apartheid and against racism.

"Thatcher did more to release [former South African President] Nelson Mandela out of prison than any of the other hundreds of anti-apartheid committees in Europe."

Former President FW De Klerk said he learnt with great sadness of the death of his friend.

He said Thatcher had a much better grasp of the complexities and realities of South Africa than many of her contemporaries, even though she was a steadfast critic of apartheid.

"She exerted more influence in what happened in South Africa than any other political leader who at that stage was in the international political stage."

De Klerk said she played a positive role in supporting the process of non-racial constitutional transformation in the country.