Pieter Willem Botha Biography

Pieter Willem Botha (12 January 1916 – 31 October 2006), commonly known as "P. W." and Die Groot Krokodil (Afrikaans for "The Big Crocodile"), was the prime minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive state president from 1984 to 1989.

First elected to Parliament in 1948, Botha was for eleven years head of the Afrikaner National Party and the South African government. Although a fierce opponent of black majority rule and Communism, his government did make concessions towards political reform, whereas internal unrest saw widespread human rights abuses on the hands of the government as well as the militant opposition. Botha resigned the party leadership in February 1989 after suffering a stroke and six months later was coerced to leave the presidency as well.

In F W de Klerk's 1992 referendum Botha campaigned for a No vote and denounced De Klerk's administration as irresponsible. In early 1998, when Botha refused to testify at the Mandela government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he was supported by the right-wing Conservative Party, which had earlier contested his rule, in his refusal and was fined and given a suspended jail sentence later that year. Shortly before his death in late 2006, he renewed his opposition towards egalitarian democracy in favour of a confederate system based upon the principles of separate development.

Botha was not related to contemporary National Party politician Roelof Frederik "Pik" Botha, his Minister of Foreign Affairs.