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P.W Botha: Apartheids Leader

Info: 1266 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 3rd May 2017 in History

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P.W. Botha was probably one of the meanest and most savage men to rule South Africa. He was known for being a sour and ruthless man who took after his father. This ruthless like way of life was the reason he was nicknamed “The Great Crocodile.”(Lambert). When he came into power he didn’t think twice of any killings he ordered for apartheid and apartheid rebel camps. The people under his rule were in deep poverty and in constant fear of him. His rule, though hated by some, was revolutionary for the country. The reason is because he ruled during a reorganization of government. He went from the prime minister for six years to the first South African president for the next five years. This, however, had little effect on his views of apartheid even though the people decide who is in power in a democracy. This great crocodile however would eventually come to an end in his rule.(Lambert) P.W. Botha’s rule was revolutionary in terms of government reorganization but troubling for his people in apartheid.

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P.W. Botha began his rule as Prime minister in 1978 with the idea of reform. His first major change was his new program, “adapt or die.”(Bernstein). This program greatly surprised many of the white African Americans because of the reformist ring to it. This was a very questionable act that he made in the eyes of his supporters. Soon after, some radicals in his party left to create their own. Botha decided to give himself a more powerful position or title so he became the state president. As his rule went on he created marriage restrictions for his people and a passport system for blacks so they live in a designated area. Also he loosened ties with neighboring countries under black rule. During this time, South Africa had riots breaking out everywhere and could only make Botha declare the country in a state of emergency in 1986. Three years later he suffered a stroke. To his party this was a tie for him to resign but he refused multiple times. He went to meet with the notorious Mandela in prison which later led to a memoir the Mandela would write. This memoir was from Mandela and Mandela said he was astonished by the fact that the Afrikaner never once talked about the matters black leaders asked him about and that it “disarmed” Mandela. Months later Botha resigned and was succeeded by F.W. de Klerk. However, Botha was a questionable leader to many due to his radical methods of rule. (Bernstein)

P.W. was a well known apartheid supporter. While in rule he strengthened his military in order to carry out apartheid movements. These methods were the very reason he earned his nickname of the great crocodile. He also came into office when the revolts and riots were at their highest and the amount of chaos was tremendous at the time. However, he knew what his party had created and supported since 1948 and that was apartheid which he held strong to. During the reorganization however some say that his amount of support may have dwindled. The reason was because in the democracy the people had a choice in who was leader and while he ruled not many people really liked the way he ruled because of apartheid. Though this is said his rule was still strong to his belief in the party. Botha was a strong willed leader when it came to his methods of ruling and that is why people either said he was the meanest man or the greatest ruler and he never apologized for his apartheid rule because he believed so strongly that what he did was correct. (Ys)

The people during this time were obviously distraught. There were riots constantly starting and going on do to their great dislike for his methods. However, some people stayed on his side. The reason they did is because they were the upper class whites who were not affected by apartheid and the riots so they saw it as something that bettered themselves. These people, however, were few in numbers and the majority of the country was affected by his rule. Apartheid was a destructive way to rule and practically tore the country apart on the inside and men and women seemed to be constantly tired of the fighting and wanted a new leader. This leader they wanted was the man in jail, Nelson Mandela. Also Botha had some internal strife in his party at the time because they even hoped for his resignation. They did this because of his newest method which was “adapt or die.” (Ys)This method was not the methods the party was use to and that are why some of his supporters left to create their own party in the hope that he would resign and they could take over. However Botha was stubborn in his rule. He was urged by his people and his party to resign many times and though he had a stroke he still wouldn’t resign. The people were fed up with him after the eleven years he ruled and when he resigned it was a relief to the streets for a period of time.

Conditions in South Africa were dwindling at an extremely fast rate. South Africa was probably at its worst state in history. The riots and internal strife caused by apartheid created mass poverty in both rural and urban areas for schools and housing. Schools at the time were not a necessity to the people. Most children did not get an education because they dropped out to help support their family. Children were often left to fend for themselves because their parents were killed or robbed by people who are desperate for food. Also the children lived in makeshift houses with their family. Many were lucky to have a bed or a blanket to sleep on. The poverty was tremendous and it was terrible to live in for anyone. The only people who benefited from apartheid were the upper class whites who lived in the few neighborhoods that still existed in the cities. P.W. Botha at the time strengthened his military in order strengthen his enforcement of apartheid in the cities. Also these conditions were not possible to escape due to the passports. Every person had to have a passport that designated where they lived and where they were allowed to be. IF a person was caught out of their zone or without a passport they were arrested or often shot. One of the major riots that took place was over the passports. Black individuals went into a restricted zone without their passports in revolt. This riot was ended by military and police gun shots that killed many people and scared off the rest. Also if a person were injured there were no good hospitals or a way to get to one for many so people set up makeshift hospitals. These would usually be run by doctors from other countries who want to help the people in poverty but it wasn’t always possible. These hospitals were small and could only help so many people which caused for crowded and unhealthy environments to have a hospital in. The conditions for people in South Africa were horrible due to apartheid and that is why the people did not like Botha the same way they like Mandela.

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P.W. Botha had a long a tough life. He grew up in an abusive home which shaped him as a mean and strict man. During his rule he changed the government and he enforced apartheid with deadly force. South Africa would stay the way he left it for one more term until Nelson Mandela saves the country from internal strife and destruction. Until the day he died P.W. Botha believed what he did was right and will not apologize to his people because he believes he helped them. His rule of apartheid truly changed South Africa into a democracy that will fight for what they want which is freedom from apartheid.


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