Not sorry says Botha

The 90-year-old Afrikaner last week gave an interview laden with overtones of his fallen regime’s racist thinking, undermining South Africa’s policy of reconciliation, and broadcasters in the country refrained from broadcasting the interview for fear of opening old wounds. Botha, an autocratic ruler who ruthlessly led one of the world’s last racial regimes, said he did not regret a moment of his decade as leader of the apartheid government and added that South Africa would be “in the drain” by now if blacks had taken power at the height of decolonisation campaigns of the 1960s. The hardline Afrikaner served for a decade as defence minister and then, after the overthrow of John Vorster in the Information Scandal, took over as South Africa’s prime minister and president from 1978 to 1989, a period dominated by the apartheid government’s brutal oppression of black South Africans, war with Namibia and Angola and terrorist attacks on neighbouring countries supporting the anti-apartheid struggle. Asked what he thought South Africa would have looked like today if it had introduced black majority rule in 1948, when his National Party came to power or during the time when “winds of change” were sweeping across the continent, with most African countries winning their independence in the 1960s, Botha replied: “By this time we would have been in the drain already’ because the forces of evil gradually took over in Africa, took over in Mozambique, took over in Angola, took over in Rhodesia.” To Page A3 Observers say this statement is only a chip of the block of Botha’s white supremacist policies during his reign and shows that he has remained unrepentant and ungrateful to South Africa’s policy of reconciliation, given the legacy of brutality and racial hatred left by his regime. A 1985 speech delivered by Botha to his cabinet shows how he led and facilitated efforts by the apartheid regime to keep population growth among black under control through the use of chemical and biological weapons deployed through hospitals and other institutions. Botha’s statements fly straight in the face of South Africa’s policy of Reconciliation, which saved him and many apartheid scientists from prosecution over the use of chemical and biological weapons on civilians from the late 70s to as late as 1992. “The White man is created to rule the Black man. Come to think of what would happen one day if you woke up and on the throne sat a Kaff*ir! Can you imagine what would happen to our women? Does anyone of you believe that the Blacks can rule this country?” he asked his cabinet, before concluding, “Hence, we have good reasons to let them all….the Mandelas….rot in prison, and I think we should be commended for having kept them alive in spite of what we have at hand with which to finish them off.” Botha last week denied that he had advocated a policy that saw blacks as inferior to whites, he went to great lengths to advance white supremacist theories and even invested in projects to stop population growth among blacks through the use of chemical and biological weapons in hospitals. In his speech, he noted, “By now every one of us has seen it practically that the Blacks cannot rule themselves. Give them guns and they will kill each other. They are good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives and indulging in sex. Let us all accept that the Black man is the symbol of poverty, mental inferiority, laziness and emotional incompetence. Isn’t it plausible?” Botha tried to convince his apartheid government that there was need to keep the growth of South Africa’s black popu lation in check and prevent its white population from being “choked”. “I wish to announce a number of new strategies that should be put to use to destroy this Black bug. We should now make use of the chemical weapon. Priority number one, we should not by all means allow any more increases of the Black population lest we be choked very soon,” He said, adding, “I have exciting news that our scientists have come with an efficient stuff. I am sending out more researchers to the field to identify as many venues as possible where the chemical weapons could be employed to combat any further population increases. The hospital is a very strategic opening, for example and should be fully utilized.” A report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings in its Special Investigation into Project Coast, a codename for the apartheid regime’s elaborate Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) programme detailed how the Botha government invested in the production of CBW and used them against civilians in apartheid South Africa. Project Coast was involved in the mass production of lethal chemical and biological weapons causing diseases and undermining the health of black communities in South Africa and other countries hostile to the country’s apartheid system. The chemical and biological weapons, consisting mainly of poisons and lethal micro-organisms developed ostensibly for crowd control and defensive purposes during the country’s engagement with Angola during the Cold War, were deployed against civilians, causing fatal botulism and anthrax. Botha’s government survived a decade of repression through the use of these weapons against the leaders of black resistance movements and other figures who spoke out openly against apartheid. His regime is also believed to have been behind the assassination of Mozambique’s first president and Defence Forces Chief of Staff Samora Machel, whose plane crashed after it was allegedly misled by false beacons near South Africa’s border with Swaziland. Botha was ousted from power by moderate and reformist FW de Klerk in 1989, who proclaimed the end of apartheid in 1994 when South Africa held its first all-race elections that brought Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress to power. (Tell us what you think of Botha’s remarks. Send your views to editortst@newera.com.na or post them to The Editor, The Southern Times, Box 31413, Windhoek, Nambia)

March 2006
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