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Botha, Pieter Willem

Botha, Pieter Willem

Botha, Pieter Willem, 1916-2006, South African political leader. An Afrikaner and a member of the right-wing National party, he first entered parliament in 1948. Botha gained prominence as minister of defense (1966-80) and became prime minister in 1978. He initiated a limited reform of apartheid policies, establishing a new constitution that provided legislative chambers for whites, Coloureds (persons of mixed race), and Asians but excluded the black majority; under it, he became executive president in 1984. While hinting at the possibility of dismantling apartheid, and beginning negotiations with Nelson Mandela, he promoted the bantustan (homelands) policy, violently repressed dissent, encouraged tribal rivalries within the country, and actively destabilized neighboring nations, particularly those that harbored African National Congress forces. Reelected in 1987, he resigned over party differences in 1989 and was succeeded by F. W. de Klerk. His 1998 contempt conviction for refusing to testify before the Truth Commission regarding apartheid-era crimes was overturned by an appeals court.

See Fighter and Reformer: Extracts from the Speeches of P. W. Botha (1989); B. Pottinger, The Imperial Presidency: P. W. Botha, the First 10 Years (1988).

(born Jan. 12, 1916, Paul Roux, S.Af.—died Oct. 31, 2006, Wilderness, near George) Prime minister (1978–84) and first state president (1984–89) of South Africa. Elected to parliament as a National Party candidate in 1948, Botha served in several subsequent posts before replacing John Vorster as prime minister in 1978. His government faced serious difficulties, including the coming to power of black governments in Mozambique, Angola, and Zimbabwe, an insurgency in South West Africa (Namibia), and domestic unrest among black students and labour unions. Botha responded by backing antigovernment troops in the bordering states and suppressing rebellion at home. A target of criticism from within and outside his party, he fell ill and resigned in 1989.

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Botha is a surname, especially common among white Afrikaners in South Africa. People named Botha include:

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