Former leader of the National Party (NP) and head of state, Pieter Willem Botha, resigned from the party in protest against President F.W. de Klerk's reform proposals on this day 29 years ago.
Botha was the leader of South Africa from 1978 to 1989, serving as the last Prime Minister from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive State President from 1984 to 1989. He had resigned as state president on 14 August 1989 after suffering a stroke in the midst of rising political instability and diplomatic isolation. Botha was very outspoken in his opposition against majority rule and international communism.
He campaigned for people to vote against de Klerk’s reform policy. He thought the idea of allowing black majority rule was irresponsible.
De Klerk was sworn in as acting state president on 14 August 1989 and the following month was nominated by the electoral college to succeed Botha in a five-year term as state president. De Klerk's term saw the dismantling of the apartheid system and negotiations that eventually led to South Africa's first racially-inclusive democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
In early 1998, when Botha refused to testify at the Mandela government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he was fined and given a suspended jail sentence for crimes against human rights. The TRC found that he had ordered the 1988 bombing of the South African Council of Churches headquarters in Johannesburg. The sentence was overturned after an appeal.
Shortly before his death in late 2006, he still maintained his belief on the principles of “separate development”.
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