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The BBC's Jane Standley reports
"There's growing anger at the ANC's apparant washing of it's hands of the Truth Commission"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 January, 2000, 01:41 GMT
Apartheid stalwart 'to join ANC'

Pik Botha Mr Botha served 17 years as foreign minister


A figurehead of the apartheid era in South Africa, former Foreign Minister Pik Botha, is reported to have said that he is considering joining the ruling African National Congress.

Mr Botha was quoted as saying in an interview with the City Press newspaper that it was time Afrikaners stopped hiding and worked alongside the black majority to build a new South Africa.

"If there are things in the ANC that bother you, you must try to rectify them from within the ANC," he told the newspaper.



Whites, especially the Afrikaners, must get down from their pedestals
Pik Botha

"The process of healthy political regrouping and restructuring will only start when Afrikaners join the ANC."

He stressed that he was not considering the move "just to be on the side of the governing party".

Mr Botha, 68, said Afrikaners could identify with ANC policies on freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the protection of private property. The country's liberal constitution also protects Afrikaans as one of several official languages.

ANC welcome

He said South Africa's first black President, Nelson Mandela, had shown the way, and had been a better leader than his own National Party leader, FW de Klerk.

"Mandela succeeded in his bid to reach out to whites without bitterness. De Klerk just did not manage to reach out to blacks."

ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said the party had heard rumours that Mr Botha was interested in joining.



I think within the spirit of reconciliation he can play a meaningful role
ANC spokesman

"We are not surprised at all. We are receptive to him because it augurs well for nation building," Mr Ngonyama said.

Mr Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki, have repeatedly called on Afrikaners, who make up more than half of South Africa's five million whites, to help build a better future.

Mr Botha - no relation to former apartheid President PW Botha - failed twice to win the leadership of the National Party, which imposed apartheid in 1948.

He stunned reporters in 1986 when he told them it was logical to presume the country would one day have a black president.

When that day came in 1994 with Mr Mandela's election victory, Mr Botha served two years as minister of energy and mineral affairs in a government of national unity.

He left politics in 1996 but made headlines a year later when he urged the National Party to elect a black leader after President de Klerk resigned.

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See also:
01 Jan 00 |  Africa
Sorry, whites only
26 Dec 99 |  Africa
The birth and death of apartheid
01 Dec 97 |  Africa
A new role for Afrikaans
08 Jan 00 |  Africa
Racism 'still rife' in South Africa

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