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ANC pays tribute to Pik Botha

The party says it viewed him as one of the few former National Party leaders who realised that apartheid was wrong and a crime against humanity.

16 October 1994: Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Nelson Mandela and Pik Botha attend a rally. Picture: Gallo Images/Avusa/Johan Kuus

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) has paid its tribute to Pik Botha for the role he played in transitioning the country to democracy.

The man who also served as foreign affairs minister under three apartheid presidents before becoming minister of mineral and energy affairs in Nelson Mandela’s government of national unity died on Thursday night at the of 86.

Botha joined the ANC in 2000.

The party says it viewed him as one of the few former National Party leaders who realised that apartheid was wrong and a crime against humanity.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe says the ruling party is saddened by his passing.

“As the ANC, although Botha was the former minister of the National Party administration, we acknowledge and appreciate his positive contribution towards building a new and better South Africa.”

WATCH: The life of Pik Botha

‘A REMARKABLE MAN’

The family of the late Pik Botha say they’re remembering him on Friday afternoon for the pride they felt when he served in Madiba’s Cabinet.

His son Roelf has confirmed he passed away peacefully at a Pretoria hospital. He says his father was a remarkable man.

“He was an extremely passionate and intelligent man who could remember facts and figures, names and dates. He had such a wide circle of influence.”

As foreign affairs minister in the Cabinet 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.

His son says he then tried to change the system from within.

“Someone made a remark on Friday morning that he was the right guy in the wrong political party. If you want to effect change in a country with the Constitution as we had at the time, which was not democratic, then you have a lot more influence if you have some control over the leadership, otherwise, you’re a voice in the wilderness.”

At the same time, the Nelson Mandela Foundation says despite South Africa’s complex history, the country must remember the role Botha's played in establishing democracy.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Sello Hatang said: “With the kind of complex history that we have, each one of us should be remembered for the part that we played towards the change... and also the bit that makes our history difficult needs to also be remembered. We hope that his family and friends will find peace.”

LISTEN: The life & times of Pik Botha

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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