Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mandela's tear for the crocodile who locked him up...

The incredible Nelson Mandela has paid tribute to the PW Botha, the symbol of all that was evil in apartheid, the man who defiantly refused to release him from prison, who sent death squads into the townships which murdered children, who destablised the whole of southern Africa and who took his own country to the brink of bankruptcy in the cause of white supremacy.

PW was known by his friends as the Great Crocodile for his iron fist in dealing with opposition to apartheid.

And under pressure even from his own side to release Mandela, he famously said: “What would you say if I release him today and we had to re-arrest him tomorrow?”

Yet on his death, some of the first tributes reported on the BBC have come from Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress - outlawed under Mr Botha but which now governs South Africa.

"The African National Congress extends its sympathies and condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of former President PW Botha, who passed away. The ANC wishes his family strength and comfort at this difficult time,"
it said today.

Mandela himself said: "While to many Mr Botha will remain a symbol of apartheid, we also remember him for the steps he took to pave the way towards the eventual peacefully negotiated settlement in our country."

Those words tell us something about PW. But don't they tell us much more about the greatness of Mandela?


Anonymous said...

Based on your quote, Mandela is exaggerating.

Botha took no such steps.

Although De Clerk, who followed him, did take some steps under pressure.

Rather late in the day, but necessary all the same.

fairdealphil said...

thanks brynley:

seems to me that Mandela is saying that Botha recognised that the game was up but didn't know how to end it.

that seems to suggest he lacked the leadership that the great man Mandela demonstrates.

Shamik Das said...

According to Peter Hain, a man who knows more than most on this issue, Die Groot Krokodil met Nelson in secret, and moved him to a jail on the mainland, but didn't have the will or the bottle to take the next step.

Mabida's words speak volumes for his class, decency and integrity. He really is a living legend.

I'll never forget the time I saw him speak to the Labour Party Conference six years ago. No bitterness, no anger, just warmth, love and hope ...

fairdealphil said...


i had the privilege also of being at the labour conference addressed by Mandela.

apart from the ANC, the great man has only ever addressed one other party's conference.

i'm proud that he chose Labour to say thank you for the work the Party did to help set him free - and end apartheid.

Yzerfontein said...

Botha was a key figure in apartheid South Africa, a pity he never found it necessary to apologise for his part. Some say that if South Africa had ended apartheid in the 70's it would have fallen under the communist umbrella.

Steve Hayes said...

It is a measure of how far South Africa has come as a nation that PW Botha did not end up like some of his contemporaries -- Ceaucescu of Romania, Milosevic of Serbia, and, as now seems likely, Saddam Hussein of Iraq. If South Africa still espoused the kind of values that Botha tried so hard to preserve, he would undoubtedly have suffered their fate.

But what is really sad is to see people like Tony Blair being lauded by the media as holding the "moral high ground" for espousing PW Botha's values, such as 90-day detention.

There are bigger crocodiles than Botha in the world today, and their surnames also begin with the letter B.