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Louis Botha

Louis Botha


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Louis Botha was born in Greytown, Natel in 1862. Elected to the Transvaal Volksraad in 1897 he was South Africa's most impressive military leader during the Boer War (1899-1902). His success at Spion Kop resulted in him being promoted to commander-in-chief of the Boer forces.

After the signing of the Vereeniging Peace Treaty (1902) Botha worked tirelessly for reconciliation with Britain. 1907 he was elected prime minister of the Transvaal colony under the new constitution and three years later became the first president of South Africa.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Botha immediately offered to send troops to invade German South-West Africa. Afrikaner opposition to this move provoked a major Boer Revolt. This was defeated by the middle of 1915 but in the elections of that year, Botha's National Party, only narrowly held on to power.

From July 1915 Botha passed direct military command to his close friend, General Jan Smuts. Botha attended the Paris Peace Conference where he argued against the harsh treatment of the Central Powers. A signatory of the Versailles Treaty, Louis Botha died in August 1919.


Botha House History

There can be no doubt but that Sir Frank Reynolds thrilled with delight and a deep, inward satisfaction, when the Prime Minister turned to him and put a question: “Could you find me two or three acres here? I would like to put up a small cottage for Annie.”

In his early notes Sir Frank Reynolds called the residence intended for the Prime Minister, “Botha Cottage”. Sir Frank probably used the word “cottage” because General Botha had expressed the wish to build a cottage by the sea or he might quite well have done so in a humorous vein, as he set about erecting an elegant Cape Dutch style house, around which much of the interest in Umdoni Park revolves today.

June 1919:Sir Frank noted in his diary on 15 June, that the foundations had been started. Five weeks earlier the Railway Administration had commenced building the siding.

August 1919:The news of General Botha’s passing came less than 3 months after the start of Botha House. He died on 27 August.

January 1920:However, the work on the building did not falter. By the end of January, 1920, the bricklayers and plasterers had finished and left, and Sir Frank now marked out the entrance gates.

March / April 1920:The terrace at Botha House was started in March, and on 7 April we find Sir Frank and Molly Reynolds unpacking cases of china and glass from Harrods of London, and silver from Mappin & Webb. All for use at Botha House.

By 14 April, the electricians had completed their work, and on the 18 th Sir Frank explained to the Railway Administration the need for what he called a “ladies’ platform” at the Umdoni Siding. During April we note a certain urgency in Sir Frank’s diary notes. Several times he says “Pushing on with work”. By the end of April workers were busy making roads around Botha House.

May 1920:On 3 May, Sir Frank and Molly went to Parker, Wood & Co. in Durban to select the carpets for Botha House. By mid-May, the house was fully furnished, and the terrace completed.

Sir Frank’s entry for 16 May strikes a note in history for the record. “We all go down to Botha House, and I present the house to Mrs Botha for her life…”

By now Sir Frank Reynolds had converted his private ownership of Umdoni Park and its improvements to a Trust, one of the clauses was that Botha House was “to be held and maintained to the use of Annie Botha, widow of the Right Hon. Louis Botha, P.C., during her lifetime and, at her death, to the Prime Minister of South Africa for the time being, and his successors in office. The remainder of Umdoni Park Estate to be held and maintained to the use of the public, subject to rules and regulations governing behaviour, visiting times, etc…”

Mrs Botha came every year in the winter-time to stay at Botha House.

May 1937:During her latter years, Mrs Botha stayed permanently at Botha House until her passing on 21 May 1937.


Who's Who - Louis Botha

Born in Greytown, Natal, Botha - an energetic man throughout his life - helped to launch, at the age of 22, the New Republic Vryheid district of Zululand (later absorbed into the Transvaal in 1888).

Botha thereafter married an Irishwoman, Annie Emmett, and entered Transvaal politics, where he was elected to the Volksraad in 1897.

Throughout his career Botha consistently argued for reconciliation between Briton and Boer. Nevertheless, with the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899 Botha enlisted and rapidly attained the rank of General. He commanded the southern Boer army that held the line of the Tugela River against British General Sir Redvers Buller until 1900. Botha succeeded Piet Joubert as Commandant-General of the Boer armies in 1900.

Following the fall of Pretoria in June 1900 (in addition to the loss of a large number of Boers at Paardeberg), Botha successfully led an effective guerrilla campaign against the British which ended only with the complete depletion of his troop strength in 1902. The Vereeniging Peace Treaty followed.

Botha returned to politics following the conclusion of the Boer War, becoming chairman of the Het Volk Party in the Transvaal Colony. With the granting of self-government in 1907 Botha was elected Prime Minister, a feat emulated with his election as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa in 1910, a position he retained until his death in Pretoria in 1919.

Botha, along with Jan Smuts, formed the South African Party in 1911, consisting mainly of supporters of reconciliation between the Afrikaners and the British. Nationalist elements within the party later broke away and formed the National Party in 1914 under J.B.M. Hertzog.

With Britain's declaration of war against Germany on 4 August 1914 Botha offered immediate military assistance, a decision that sparked rebellion among a portion of the Afrikaner community, and which was notably opposed by the National Party, which argued that the Afrikaners' national identity and heritage was at risk.

Botha chose to personally lead the Union forces assembled to quell the rebellion (led by Generals de Wet and Beyers), although he impressed many with his public clemency in dealing with rebel leaders (although he puzzled his British allies with this approach, as he did once again by applying the same leniency over conquered German troops in Southwest Africa).

Having put down the rebellion Botha, along with close associate General Smuts (another veteran of the Boer War and to whom he delegated military leadership in July 1915), set about tackling (and beating) German forces in Southwest Africa, launching an invasion in Namibia in February 1915.

With General Smuts managing the Union's military campaign on a day to day basis, Botha concerned himself with encouraging political unity at home, a task he continued following his narrow re-election later in 1915. Throughout the First World War he was consistent in providing military support to Britain.

With the armistice Botha travelled to Paris to take part in negotiations for dealing with Germany. A signatory of the peace treaty, Botha unsuccessfully argued for clemency in the Allies' treatment of Germany.


Louis Botha

The South African soldier and statesman Louis Botha (1862-1919), one of the most important Boer leaders, helped to establish the Union of South Africa and became its first prime minister.

Conflict had featured prominently in the relations between black and white on the one hand and Boer and Briton on the other during the greater part of the 19th century. In this setting the Boer had often been in danger of being crushed between the numerical superiority of the Africans and the economic, cultural, and military power of the British. Partly as a result, the Boer developed a nationalism whose moods ranged from a fierce pride in all things Afrikaans to distrust and, sometimes, hatred of the outsider. Considerations of security for the Afrikaner influenced the attitude of Louis Botha to the Africans, the British, and the nationalists in his community.

Botha was born into a farming family of Voortrekker (pioneer) and Irish stock near Greytown in Natal on Sept. 27, 1862. The turbulence of the times and the paucity of schools made higher education a luxury many farmers could not give their children. Botha grew up with little formal schooling. His family moved to the Orange Free State, where young Botha established contacts with the Zulus which were to change the course of his life.

Before King Cetshwayo of the Zulus died, he had indicated that his son, Dinuzulu, would succeed him. Prince Zibebu's challenge to the young monarch's authority resulted in civil war. In 1884 Botha joined the commando unit sent by the Boers to fight by Dinuzulu's side. The rebels were crushed, and the Boers acquired 3,000,000 acres of Zulu territory as payment for their help. A member of the surveying team, Botha was instrumental in transforming this land into the New Republic, which became a part of the South African (Transvaal) Republic when the British annexed Zululand in 1887. The union with the Transvaal led to Botha's election to the Volksraad (parliament).

In the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) Botha's genius as a military strategist came to the fore. A field cornet when hostilities commenced, Botha was appointed aide-de-camp to Gen. Lucas Meyer, who commanded the Boer forces in northern Natal. Meyer's task was to secure the southern borders of the republic. Botha fought in the battles around Dundee (1899), where his resourcefulness first received attention. Meyer fell ill during the fighting near the besieged British city of Ladysmith--the gateway to the Transvaal and the Orange Free State--and Botha assumed command.

Sir Redvers Buller was coming up from the coast to relieve Ladysmith. Botha met him near Colenso and wrought havoc on the British forces. Buller regrouped his army, Botha withdrew during the night, and Buller bombarded empty trenches. Botha again mauled the British on Spion Kop. But the eventual relief of Ladysmith in 1900 was a bitter blow to the Boers.

Fortune was against the Boers. Their communications were poor, and discipline was at a low ebb. In February 1900 the commander in chief of the Boer forces, Gen. Petrus Jacobus Joubert, appointed Botha his deputy. After Joubert died in Pretoria on March 21, President Paul Kruger asked Botha to assume provisional command of all the Boer forces with the rank of acting commandant.

Botha did not have much of an army to lead. The British were converging on the Transvaal, and demoralization had developed among some of the Boers. He organized a crack force and was able within a few months to put it on the field. It was this army which was later to make him the hero of Bakenlaagte. The Boers continued to lose ground, and by June 4 Botha was forced to send a letter to Lord Roberts, the British commander, requesting an armistice to discuss the capitulation of Pretoria, the capital. Roberts could consider unconditional surrender only, and by September Pretoria had fallen.

For Botha and the Boers, however, the war was not over. Roberts's rejection of the armistice offer had transformed it into a people's war. The front line was wherever there were Boer men, women, and children. The British retaliated by burning farms suspected of harboring saboteurs. Concentration camps were built to restrict the rebels.

A second attempt to end hostilities followed. Botha met the British in Middelburg in March 1901. Negotiations broke down when the Boers insisted on the retention of their independence and wanted an amnesty for their followers. In September, Kitchener announced that the Boers who did not surrender would be banished permanently and that the cost of maintaining their families would be charged against their property. Botha replied to this with increased guerrilla activity.

Botha tried once more to find a way to peace, and the treaty of Vereeniging was signed with the British on May 31, 1902. Its terms displeased the Boers, and Botha joined a delegation to England to plead for modification. Failing in this mission, they returned to South Africa, determined to extort maximum advantage from the Vereeniging settlement.

The wounds of the war had not healed when World War I broke out. Botha was convinced that it was in South Africa's interest to fight with Britain. He persuaded Parliament to approve his declaration of war against Germany and led the army which marched into South-West Africa. The German governor, Dr. Theodor Seitz, surrendered near Tsumeb on July 9, 1915. Botha imposed provisional military rule over the territory and then returned to Pretoria to start preparations for the expeditionary forces he was to send to Tanganyika and Europe. The British asked him to sit on the War Cabinet, and in 1919 he was at Versailles, pleading for more humane treatment of the Germans.

In 1905 Botha and Jan Christiaan Smuts founded a Boer party, Het Volk (The People), which stood for conciliation and cooperation with the British. The Transvaal was granted responsible government in 1907, and on May 31, 1910, the Union of South Africa came into being, with Gen. Botha heading its first government. Among the problems he had to face were the rise of Afrikaner nationalism, the segregation of the Africans, discontented Indian labor, and restive white workers.

Botha's Boer critics were offended by his conciliation with the English, charged that cooperation served English ends at the expense of Afrikaner cultural interests, and demanded separate development for the Boers and the Britons. For Botha, their demands struck at the roots of Afrikaner security and survival. Crisis point was reached when James Hertzog insisted that the Dutch and English should be treated on a footing of real equality. Botha sympathized with Hertzog's demand but asked for his resignation, fearing that Hertzog's demand would split the nation. Hertzog refused and Botha formed a new cabinet--without Hertzog. This action widened the gulf between the Boers and the Britons and deepened the rifts in the Afrikaans community.

Like the Voortrekker leaders who had preceded him, Botha was an advocate of segregation of the races. He supported the bill that Hertzog had drafted in 1912, prohibiting the sale of land in white areas to the Africans and vice versa. This measure went through Parliament as the Natives Land Act of 1913 and created widespread ill-feeling among the Africans.

Botha's difficulties with the indentured Indian laborers transformed Mohandas K. Gandhi, a prosperous Johannesburg lawyer, into the father of nonviolent resistance. Botha also had to deal with two serious strikes by white workers in 1913 and 1914. He died in Pretoria on Aug. 27, 1919.


THE BOER KRYGSRAAD, WATERVAL 20 June 1901


Val Hotel - as it is today: This building retains parts of the original hotel which dates back to the 1890s.

There is a famous picture of the Boer leaders about to take a train from Val Station (on the main line between Johannesburg and Durban, about 20 km east of Greylingstad) to Klerksdorp. Boer leaders from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (the Transvaal) and the Orange Free State were to meet in Klerksdorp to decide on whether to continue with the war or to negotiate peace terms with the British Government. The date was 6 April 1902. Commandant-General Louis Botha had arrived at the station in a Cape cart the previous day, accompanied by an escort of commandos. Botha and a number of Boer officers, now under safe conduct from the British, met in a room of the Val Hotel which still stands on the north side of the station. Hardliners among his officers were against any kind of negotiation with the British and the Boer governments' intentions needed to be clarified.

Ten months previously, another meeting had taken place not very far from Val. On 20 June 1901, a very important day of discussion. had brought about some vital decisions on Boer plans for the future. The Boer leaders met in the Branddrift farmhouse (Maurice, 1905, p 205 although Childers (1907, P 296) says they met at 'the farm Waterval, near Standerton', by which he must have been referring to a farm near the Waterval River since there was no actual farm by that name north of Standerton) alongslde the drift of the same name over the Waterval River. At the meeting were Acting Transvaal President Schalk Burger and Orange Free State President Marthinus Steyn, Transvaal State Secretary Francis Reitz, Commandant-General Louis Botha and Chief Commandant Christiaan de Wet, Generals Hertzog, Viljoen, Spruyt, De la Rey, Smuts, Muller, Lucas Meyer and a number of other commandants and officers (Maurice, 1905, p 206).

At first the meeting was convened in a secluded place somewhere along the Waterval River but it was then moved to the nearby Branddrift farmhouse. This was the most secure place they could find in an area criss-crossed by British columns. They kept well away from both railway lines - the main Johannesburg-Natal line and the ZASM line from Pretoria to Delagoa Bay (now Maputo). Blockhouses, only one thousand yards (914 m) apart and connected by barbed wire, protected the lines. Armoured trains operated on each of these lines and British reinforcements could be rushed to any point where they might be needed.

Boer scouts kept the area around Branddrift under constant surveillance, for security was absolutely vital. (Local oral tradition has it that the Boers even had a sentry on the roof of the farmhouse.) Should the British have managed to locate this concentration of the entire senior leadership of the two republics, the capture of even a few of them would have been disastrous for the Boer war effort.


The two Bothas at Val Station, 6 April 1902, awaiting the arrival over of other members of the peace conference.
Chris Botha is at centre, with a bright badge in his hat, and Commandant-General Louis Botha stands
a little in front of him, closer to the train.


Val Station, 8 April 1902:
General Louis Botha arrives in a Cape cart pulled by four mules.


Chris and Louis Botha walking along the station platform accompanied by
a British Colonial officer and a South African Constabulary officer.

General Botha meets Lord Kitchener

The Boer krygsraad at Waterval had been preceded and indeed precipitated by an earlier meeting between Botha and the British commanding general, Lord Kitchener, in Middelburg on 28 February 1901. Mrs Botha, living in Pretoria, had been given a letter to deliver to her husband (Meintjies, 1970, pp 78-81), wherein it was proposed that Botha and Kitchener should meet to see if common ground could be found to arrange terms of peace. Anything and everything was open to discussion 'except that the question of independence of the two republics was not to be discussed in any way' (Childers, 1907, pp 183-93). It was High Commissioner for South Africa, Sir Alfred Milner's proviso that no discussion was to be made on the subject of independence. (Chapter VII of Leo Amery (ed), The Times History of the War in South Africa, gives full details of the terms that were discussed at this conference).

The question of independence, however, was certainly going to be Botha's first point of departure during the meeting, but nevetheless details of a process leading to a cessation of hostilities were discussed in a reasonable and even friendly spirit. Botha clearly realised that, at some time or another, the war could only be ended by negotiation. (Meintjies [1970, p 81] writes that posters in London announced that Botha had surrendered while a photograph of Kitchener, Botha and their aides was circulated after the Middelburg meeting and certain Boer commandants were convinced that Kitchener was now a Boer prisoner-of-war).

The decision to continue the war

According to Childers (1907, pp 183, 191), a letter was sent to the British High Commissioner, Lord Milner, and then to the British Government, who returned it for Kitchener to send a final version to Botha, who declined to negotiate further. Botha then travelled to Vrede in the Orange Free State to meet with General de Wet on 25 March. It is not clear whether President Steyn was also present at this meeting, but a number of matters were discussed and they 'parted with the firm determination that, whatever happened, we would continue the war' (De Wet, 1902, p 242).

A letter was sent to the Government Secretary of the Orange Free State after a meeting of the Transvaal government and their generals on 10 May 1901. This letter suggested an approach to Kitchener for permission to send ambassadors to Europe to place before President Kruger 'the condition of our country'. Furthermore, it was proposed that an armistice be requested so as to decide 'what we must do'. (This letter, translated into English, is quoted in De Wet, 1902, pp 245-7.) President Steyn was very disappointed with the sentiments expressed in this letter and insisted that a joint meeting of the two Republican governments be organised somewhere on the Transvaal Highveld at an agreed venue as soon as possible. (Childers, 1907, p 278, describes Steyn's reaction to the letter).

Following representations from Botha and Acting Transvaal President Schalk Burger, Kitchener permitted the Boers to send a telegram to President Kruger in Holland. This was done via the Netherlands Consul and using their cipher. Kruger's reply was to the effect that the Boers should fight on even though there was little chance of any intervention by a European power. He said that there were some signs of public opinion in Britain becoming opposed to the war. As he was now remote from the war, he felt that any decisions should be taken by a joint decision of the two Republican governments. Kruger's telegram was an important document tabled at the meeting in the Branddrift farmhouse (Pakenham, 1979, p 513 Hancock and van der Poel, 1966, pp 399-400).

The Krygsraad at Waterval

The Free Staters set out for the Transvaal on 5 June together with General Koos de la Rey who had joined them from the Western Transvaal. Before travelling further, they had first to attempt the rescue of a Boer women's laager which had been captured by a British column at Graspan, east of Reitz (De Wet, 1902, pp 249-51. A more detailed account of Graspan can be found in J and J A J Lourens, Te na aan ons hart, 2002, and there exist also a number of accounts of this clash by Australian soldiers who were involved).

The Free Staters, with De la Rey and his staff, headed north from Vrede and crossed the Vaal River near Steele's Drift before striking the main railway line from Natal near Platrand on the night of 14 June. Their escort brought a blockhouse under fire by way of diverting the attention of its small garrison while the rest of the party rushed across the line. De Wet describes how the 'first of our men had hardly got seventy paces from the railway line when a fearful explosion of dynamite took place'. There were apparently casualties two dead horses and a rifle were found near the line the following morning. The Free Staters then made their way to Blaauwkop on the Vaal River. This was Commandant Coen Britz's base, where they awaited news of the arrival of the Transvaal party and the site of the meeting (De Wet, 1902, p 253. De Wet said there were no casualties, but Maurice, 1905, tells of the two dead horses).


Map showing the R50 Secunda-Standerton road and the location of the ruined farmhouse.


Ruins of the Branddrift farmhouse (with some modern additions - like the gate posts), looking to the east.
It was probably General Ben Viljoen who led the Boers to this farmhouse as it is close to Kromdraai
where he camped with his corpmando on several occasions.

Somewhere along the Waterval River, in an area practically denuded of human and animal population as a result of the' British 'scorched earth' policy, seemed a likely place to meet. The Transvaalers made their way from the hills around Amsterdam and, with some difficulty, evaded pursuing British columns. General Ben Viljoen provided the escort and the scouts who brought them safely to the farmhouse at Branddrift (Viljoen, 1903, p 229). Nevertheless, they had been so closely pressed at one stage they had been forced to abandon all their vehicles (Maurice, 1905, p 205).


Branddrift: The ruined farmhouse (left) and the road sign on the R50,
just south of the bridge over the Waterval River at the drift (right).


Branddrift: The drift looking southwest - the ruined farmhouse is across the R50 road to the left.

Alerted by despatch riders, the various parties came together for their meeting. The principal reason for the meeting was to decide whether or not to continue the war, but a number of other matters needed to be discussed too, and important decisions needed to be made. Steyn was in no doubt about his determination to fight on to the bitter end, but recent Boer successes made this matter almost a foregone conclusion for the Boer leadership. Boer successes at Vlakfontein in the western Transvaal (now North West Province) on 29 May (Childers, 1907, pp 281-5, gives a map and a detailed account of this action) and Wilmansrust on 12 June (Childers, 1907, pp 294-6) had given them encouragel11ent enough. The recent harassment and battering of a British column in a running fight from Rietfontein, near Bethal, all the way to Mooifontein, just north of Standerton, had also been noted (Childers, 1907, p 297 Viljoen, 1903, pp 225-6).


Map showing Witbank farm, not to be confused with the town of Witbank which is well outside the area of the map.
Branddrift, along the Waterval River, is where the meeting took place. The Free Staters and General de la Rey's
western Transvaalers travelled from Vrede and crossed the Vaal River near Steele's Drift.
They crossed the railway line near Platrand and spent four days at Bloukop, on the Vaal River. Leaving the meeting,
the Boers travelled west to the farm, Witbank, where the Free Staters and the western Transvaalers parted company with General Botha.
Generals de Wet and De la Rey then went south along the Waterval River. De Wet crossed
the Vaal River near Villiers, while De la Rey headed west and crossed the main railway line near Meyerton.

Thus it was resolved 'that no peace shall be made, and no peace proposals entertained that do not ensure our independence, and our existence as a nation'. More importantly, Botha and Smuts pointed out that although Boer tactics were working well, they did not have a strategy that would bring the war to a conclusion in their favour (See Appendix below for definitions of tactics, strategy and grand strategy by B H Liddell Hart). It was unlikely that the Boers could ultimately prevail against the resources and manpower that the British had at their disposal. However, what was needed was a number of big successes that would convince the British of the futility of continuing to fight. The Cape Colony had suffered no devastation and many of its inhabitants were Boers, or at least sympathetic to the Boer cause.

The Free Staters had attempted an invasion of the Cape Colony earlier in the year but Christiaan de Wet's foray over the Orange River had not been successful. The Transvaal Boers were urged to make another attempt. De la Rey made an offer of a commando of experienced men and Smuts was given command of the venture. At the same time, Botha undertook to make a similar foray into the Colony of Natal. (Deneys Reitz's Commando is a prime source on Smuts's invasion of the Cape, but see also Shearing [2000] for detail of this remarkable exploit. Botha was less successful in what became merely a raid along the border of Natal - see Childers, 1907, pp 334-59). Both caused the British some disquiet and the realisation that some drastic counter-measures were needed.

After the meeting From Branddrift, the various parties made their way back to their bases. Perhaps to put the British off the scent, or because a direct route to the east was barred by British columns, the Boer leaders headed to the west and only split up at the farm Witbank, about 26 miles (42 km) east of Heidelberg. From there the Free Staters and De la Rey and his men made for the Waterval River and crossed the railway line near Vlaklaagte guided by Commandant Henk Alberts of Heidelberg. De Wet had farmed at Zilverbank before the war for two years and so knew the area fairly well (De Wet, 1902, p 254). He describes Alberts as a 'valiant soldier' and a 'most sociable man'.

Near the Vaal River, the Free Staters and De la Rey parted company, the latter crossing the Cape railway line near Meyerton and De Wet and his President entering the Free State at the drift over the Vaal at Villiersdorp (now the town of Villiers).

Viljoen's orders were for him to take his commandos to the north of the Delagoa Bay railway line, which did not please him at all. Having been pursued by British columns, he had crossed the Delagoa Bay railway line with some difficulty and now he was being ordered to repeat the operation and cross back to the north (Viljoen, 1903, p 229). A few months later, on 25 January 1902, Viljoen was captured and sent as a prisoner-of-war to St Helena.

The Transvaal Government travelled safely back to the hills and kloofs of the eastern Transvaal.

After this there were no more joint meetings of the two Republican governments until the April 1902 consultations in Klerksdorp when it was agreed to approach the British with a joint proposal for negotiations about peace. By then, many felt that the bitter end had indeed been reached, though many others did not. It took nearly six weeks of hard bargaining from the time that the Transvaal generals had their meeting in the room in the hotel at Val until, near midnight on 31 May 1902, the Peace of Vereeniging was eventually signed, ending a tragic period of South Africa's history.

Appendix: Liddell Hart's definitions of tactics, strategy and grand strategy

Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, commonly known throughout most of his career as Captain B H Liddell Hart, was an English soldier, military historian and leading military theorist. His definitions of tactics, strategy and grand strategy are as follows:
Tactics: the techniques for using weapons or militarY units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle.
Strategy: the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy.
Grand strategy: to co-ordinate and direct all the resources of a nation, or band of nations, towards the attainment of the political object of the war - the goal defined by fundamental policy.
(For a full discussion, see Liddell Hart's Strategy, pp 319-33).

Amery, L S (Ed), The Times History of the War in South Africa, Volume II (Sampson, Low, Marston and Company Ltd, London, 1902).

Childers, E (Ed), Amery, L S (General Ed), The Times History of the War in South Africa, Volume V (Sampson, Low, Marsten and Company Ltd, London, 1907).

De Wet, General Christiaan, Three Years War (Galago Publishing [Pty] Ltd, Alberton [Reprint of original Archibald Constable and Company, London 1902]).

Hancock, W K, and van der Poel, J, Selections from the Jan Smuts Papers I, June 1886-May 1902 (Cambridge, 1966).

Liddell Hart, B H, Strategy (Faber & Faber London 1954, 1967 [reprint Meridian, 1991]).

Lourens, J, and Lourens, J A J, Te na aan ons hart: Aspekte van die Anglo-Boereoorlog in die Reitz-omgewing (self-published, Reitz, 2002).

Maurice, Major-General Sir Frederick (Ed), History of the War in South Africa, 1899-1902, Volume IV (London, 1905).

Meintjies, Johannes, General Louis Botha (Cassell, London 1970).

Moore, Dermot Michael, General Louis Botha's Second Expedition to Natal (Historical Publication Society, 1979).

Pakenham, Thomas, The Boer War (Weidenfeld and Nicholson Ltd, London, 1979).

Reitz, Deneys, Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War (Faber and Faber, London, 1929).

Shearing, Taffy and David, General Jan Smuts and his long ride (Privately printed by the authors, Sedgefield, 2000).

Van der Westhuizen, Gert and Erika, Guide to the Anglo-Boer War in the Eastern Transvaal (printed by Transo Pers, Roodepoort, bound by IPS Finishers, Johannesburg).

Viljoen, General Ben, My Reminiscences of the Anglo-Boer War (Struik [Pty] Ltd, Cape Town 1973 [Reprint of the original Hood, Douglas & Howard, London, 1903]).

Wilson, H W, After Pretoria, Volume II (Harmsworth, London, 1902).


Sex, lies and DNA: why many ɻothas' in South Africa have the wrong surname

Headlines about molecular genetics being used to shed new light on old mysteries or even put criminals behind bars have become increasingly more common.

In South Africa DNA is being used to answer important questions about everything from a group of people’s origins to the biological paternity of a child.

But paternity tests aren’t just applicable to modern cases. Fellow researcher Christoff Erasmus and I considered DNA evidence to understand a divorce case dating back 321 years. The events before and after the divorce case of Maria Kickers had long-term consequences for a family with a surname that, for decades, appeared often among the country’s white leaders. That name is Botha.

The first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, established in 1910, was Louis Botha. There was also PW Botha, the last prime minister to hold that title, and the first to become executive state president of the Republic of South Africa.

Our research shows that Kickers lied in her 1700 divorce case at the Cape of Good Hope. Her lie – about the paternity of her children – led to a chain of events that affected the Botha lineage, resulting in 38 000 people carrying that name when in fact they were descendants of Ferdinandus Appel.

The genetic evidence, which we gathered using a DNA-based paternity test kit, in combination with the documented testimonies, suggests that Ferdinandus Appel was likely the father of Kickers’ first son and Frederik Botha the father of the other boys. When we genotyped a random sample of Botha males. We found that almost half of them have the Appel rather than the Botha Y chromosome.

The false paternity claim means that tens of thousands of Bothas – more than 76 000 South Africans had this surname in 2013 – should in fact be called Appel, a very uncommon name in the country.

If the Kickers divorce case was heard today, DNA evidence would have refuted the lie about paternity outright and the Botha family may well have shattered. Our findings provide another reminder that DNA evidence can clarify events that happened centuries ago, deepening and improving our understanding of history.

One of our sources was a set of records presented by Richard Ball, who is linked to the families at the heart of the divorce case. We also drew information from published genealogical records.

From these we pieced together the following events.

Kickers married Jan Cornelitz in 1683 at the Cape. They had seven children – four boys and three girls. Christening records for six of these children have been located all named Cornelitz as the father. In 1700 Jan filed for divorce, claiming that Maria cheated on him with Ferdinandus Appel as well as a tenant who farmed alongside him, Frederik Botha.

Maria denied any involvement with Ferdinandus Appel, but confessed that Frederik Botha was the biological father of all her children.

In her own defence, she claimed that Jan, her husband, encouraged her relationship with Frederik Botha because Jan was “onbequaamd” – a Dutch word meaning “incompetent”.

Frederik Botha confirmed before the court Maria’s claim that all her children were his. While the court did not find Maria to be licentious, they did not give her permission to remarry. As a result, Maria and Frederik Botha had to wait until Jan died, 14 years later, before they could marry. The children then took on the name Botha.

Y chromosomes are inherited like surnames. So, any of Maria’s sons’ descendants along an unbroken line of males should carry identical Y chromosomes, bar a few mutations.

With the help of a genealogist we managed to contact and obtain DNA samples from all four of Maria’s sons along unbroken male lines. In three cases, more than one descendent was found. We genotyped these Bothas’ Y chromosomes with a kit that is used for paternity tests. The Y chromosomes clearly separated into two groups distinguished by too many mutations to have stemmed from the same Botha ancestor. Within each group, there were a few mutations between individuals, as one would expect for two Y chromosomes with 11 to 19 ancestors between them.

Interestingly, the one group linked to Maria’s first-born son, whereas the other sons’ descendants all shared virtually identical genetic profiles. This pattern piqued our curiosity as it suggested that the first son’s profile may have stemmed from Ferdinandus Appel.

To test this idea, we genotyped two Appel men: one was a clear match to the first sons’ descendants. It is 130 times more likely that Maria’s first son was fathered by Ferdinandus Appel than by a random male that just happened to have the same Y chromosome profile

When we genotyped a random sample of Bothas we found that almost half of them have the Appel rather than the Botha profile. To understand why the first son seems to account for more than a quarter of modern Bothas, we looked at the male descendants as listed in the genealogical records published by the now-closed Genealogical Institute of South Africa.

Just counting the 62 males that were 30 years old or younger in 1780, 45% descended from the first brother while the other three Botha brothers accounted for the remaining 55%. The high number of the first brother’s descendants in 1780 could thus explain why so many of our random sample grouped with the Appel profile.


'It's been very sad to see': Louis Botha Rea Vaya project delayed years later

In this week's edition of #FixMyJoburg, we look into Rea Vaya.

Why is the Louis Botha leg of Rea Vaya not working yet years after construction kicked off?

The route is meant to connect the Alexandra township to the Johannesburg CBD and Sandton CBD.

It’s a multiple set of bus stops that have been completed, but there are no buses running yet.

John Perlman speaks to Rehana Moosajee, the former Joburg MMC for Transport under former mayor Parks Tau, and Daily Maverick associate editor Ferial Haffajee to find out what could be delaying the Louis Botha Rea Vaya project.

It has been very, very sad to actually see the delay in the rollout of phase 1c, particularly if you take into account that with phase 1A, it was the first bus rapid transit system on the continent, there were major issues with resistance to the project. but phase 1A was delivered in under three years.

Rehana Moosajee, Former Joburg MMC for Transport

I think what's most frustrating is Joburg's inability, through successive administrations, to emphatically look at the ANC manifesto of 2011. The ANC promised to deliver phase 1C by 2016.

Rehana Moosajee, Former Joburg MMC for Transport

Listen to the full interview below.

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National Party (NP)

The first leader of the National Party (NP) became Prime Minister as part of the PACT government in 1924. The NP was the governing party of South Africa from 1948 until 1994, and was disbanded in 2005. Its policies included apartheid, the establishment of a South African Republic, and the promotion of Afrikaner culture. NP members were sometimes known as ‘Nationalists’ or ‘Nats’.

The feature includes a history of the National party, broken down into sections, according to significant periods of the NP’s history. An archive section listing and linking to relevant speeches, articles, documents and interviews. Featured is also a people section that lists all of the key figures and members of the NP, with links to their relevant biographies.

A history of the National Party

Founding and ideology (1910-1914)

In 1910 the Union of South Africa was established, and the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State became provinces in the Union. However, the union was established with dominion status, which effectively meant that South Africa was no longer a colony, but it was not independent and could not leave the empire or ignore the monarchy. After the 1910 elections Louis Botha became the first prime minister of the Union, and headed the South African Party (SAP) - an amalgam of Afrikaner parties that advocated close cooperation between Afrikaners and persons of British descent.

The founder of the NP, General JBM Hertzog, was a member of the Union Government, and was fiercely and publicly nationalistic. This offended English-speaking South Africans and stood in opposition to Botha’s policies of national unity. However, many Afrikaans people saw Hertzog as their representative and many important Afrikaans political and cultural leaders supported him- particularly people from the Orange Free State and the Cape. Hertzog often publicly disagreed with the opinions of his fellow leaders of the SAP, in particular, those of Prime Minister Louis Botha and General Jan Smuts. He promoted South Africa’s interests above Britain’s and saw English and Afrikaans South Africans developing in two parallel, but separate, cultural streams. Some enthusiastic supporters of the British Empire’s presence in South Africa described him as anti-British, and called for his removal from government. Some even decided to resign rather than work with him- while he refused to leave his position.

In May 1913, his Orange Free State supporters in the SAP insisted on his inclusion in the cabinet at the SAP Free State Congress, while the Transvaal members who supported Botha thought he should be excluded. At the national SAP Congress in November 1913, in Cape Town, Botha won enough support to keep Hertzog out of the cabinet. This was the last straw for Hertzog and he left the SAP to form the National Party.

From 1 to 9 January 1914, Hertzog’s supporters met in Bloemfontein to form the National Party, and to lay down its principles. The main aim was to direct the people’s ambitions and beliefs along Christian lines towards an independent South Africa. Political freedom from Britain was essential to the NP, but the party was prepared to maintain the current relationship with the Empire. They also insisted on equality of the two official languages, English and Dutch. Since Hertzog’s policies were orientated towards Afrikaner nationalism, most of his supporters were Afrikaans people.

On 1 July 1914 the National Party of the Orange Free State was born and on 26 August the Transvaal followed. The Cape National Party was founded on 9 June 1915.

The NP did not have a regular mouthpiece to promote its policies and campaigns like the SAP’s Ons Land newspaper in Cape Town and De Volkstem in Pretoria. Die Burger newspaper was therefore created in the Cape on 26 July 1915 for this specific purpose, with D. F. Malan as editor.

The National Party strengthens (1914-1923)

Most Afrikaners were against South African participation in World War 1 on the side of the British. Therefore, when South Africa was asked to invade German South West Africa (SWA) in August 1914 there was opposition from the ranks of the newly formed National Party (NP), and even from some who were part of the South African government. At their August congress the opposed invasion, and on 15 August there was a republican demonstration in Lichtenburg. Besides these protest efforts, it was agreed that South West Africa should be invaded.

The economic depression after the war and dissatisfaction from Black South Africans and other extra-parliamentary groups made the SAP's rule more difficult. The main reason for black anger was Smuts' acceptance of the Stallard report that stated:

”It should be a recognised principle that natives (men, women and children) should only be permitted within municipal areas in so far and for as long as their presence is demanded by the wants of the white population. The masterless native in urban areas is a source of danger and a cause of degradation of both black and white. If the native is to be regarded as a permanent element in municipal areas there can be no justification for basing his exclusion from the franchise on the simple ground of colour.” (This report later led to the passing of the Natives (Urban Areas) Act no 21 of 1923).

The Afrikaner opposition to WW1 proved to strengthen the, particularly after the death of General De la Rey (Afrikaners blamed Smuts and Botha). The death of General Louis Botha in 1919 pushed away more of the SAP supporters, and by the end of the Great War many of the SAP’s supporters had left the party and joined the.

In the 1920 elections it became clear that the SAP would need the cooperation to form a combined cabinet, in order to maintain political stability. Members of both parties met at Robertson on 26 and 27 May 1920, and made a potential agreement. On 22 September the two parties met again, but they could not finalize an agreement. The main point of disagreement concerned South Africa’s relationship with Britain - Hertzog wanted independence, while Smuts was happy with the situation as it was.

The Rand Rebellion of 1922 further strengthened the popularity, as it led to cooperation between the and the Labour Party (LP). The Rebellion was the result of severe labour unrest that had been simmering for some time. Both parties wanted to protect White labour, and decided to make a pact in April 1923 that would ensure that they would not oppose each other in the elections, and would support each other’s candidates in certain areas. This Pact resulted in the defeat of the SAP in the 27 June 1924 general elections. Afrikaans then became an official language and the country got a new flag.

The Pact Government (1924-1938)

After the Pact Government's 1924 election victory, South Africa had a new government. Hertzog was Prime Minister and also Minister of Native Affairs. His chief assistants were Tielman Roos (the leader of the National Party in the Transvaal), who was Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Justice. Dr D. F. Malan, who was the leader of the NP in the Cape, and became Minister of the Interior, Public Health and Education. Hertzog's close confidant, N. C. Havenga of the Orange Free State was made Minister of Finance. To express his gratitude to the Labour Party (for their help in getting him into power) Hertzog included two English-speaking Labour Party men in his cabinet, namely Colonel F. H. P. Creswell, as Minister of Defence, and T. Boydell, as Minister of Public Works, Posts and Telegraphs.

The Hertzog government curtailed the electoral power of non-Whites, and furthered the system of allocating “reserved” areas for Blacks as their permanent homes- while regulating their movements in the remainder of the country.

In 1926 South Africa’s position in relation to Britain was made clear in the Balfour Declaration, drawn up at the Imperial Conference of the same year. The Declaration became a law in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster, and the Pact Government’s greatest progress was made in industrial legislation and economy. Its protection of White workers and strict control over industry removed all problems in mines and factories, and these industries grew enormously . read more.

The Pact Government managed to keep the white voters happy, and five years later in the 1929 election, they were able to win again - therefore securing a second term, from 1929 to 1934. After the 1929 election Hertzog still gave his Pact partner, the LP, some representation in the new cabinet - with Colonel F. H. P. Creswell keeping the portfolios of Defence and Labour, while H. W. Sampson was named Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. The rest of the cabinet was made up of NP members, who gradually laid more and more stress on republican independence and Afrikaner identity.

The Great Depression, from 1930 to 1933, made the government’s rule difficult. Britain left the gold standard on 21 September 1931, and Tielman Roos returned to politics in 1932 to oppose Hertzog in his position to retain the gold standard. His campaign was successful and the government met their demand.

Over time, the difference between the NP and SAP became smaller, and in 1933 the two parties merged to form a coalition government. The two parties were named the United Party (UP) in 1934, but D. F. Malan and his Cape NP refused to join. He remained independent to form the new opposition, which was called the Purified National Party (PNP).

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 caused an internal split in the UP. Hertzog wanted to remain neutral in the war and by winning a crucial vote in parliament (September 1939), Smuts became prime minister again and brought South Africa into the war on the British (Allied) side. Hertzog then returned to the NP, which was reformed as the Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP) [Reformed National Party] on 29 Jan 1940. Hertzog was the party’s leader, with Malan as his deputy.

NP Ascendancy and Apartheid (1939-1950s)

The split decision in 1939 to take South Africa into the war, and the disruption the war effort, caused Afrikaners to be seriously alienated from the UP. By 1948 there was growing irritation with wartime restrictions that were still in place, and living costs had increased sharply. White farmers in the northern provinces were particularly unhappy that Black labourers were leaving farms and moving to the cities, and therefore demanded the strict application of pass laws.

In the election of 26 May 1948, D.F. Malan's National Party, in alliance with N.C. Havenga's Afrikaner Party, won with a razor-thin majority of five seats and only 40% of the overall electoral vote. The alliance was formed during the war from General Hertzog's core support

Malan said after the election: “Today South Africa belongs to us once more. South Africa is our own for the first time since Union, and may God grant that it will always remain our own.” When Malan said that South Africa “belonged” to the Afrikaners he did not have the white-black struggle in mind, but rather the rivalry between the Afrikaner and the English community.

After the 1948 election, The NP that came to power was effectively two parties rolled into one. The one was a party for white supremacy that introduced apartheid and promised the electorate that it would secure the political future of whites the other was a nationalist party that sought to mobilise the Afrikaner community by appealing to Afrikaans culture i.e. their beliefs, prejudices and moral convictions- establishing a sense of common history, and shared hopes and fears for the future.

Immediately after the 1948 election, the government began to remove any remaining symbols of the historic British ascendancy. It abolished British citizenship and the right of appeal to the Privy Council (1950). It scrapped God Save the Queen as one of the na­tional anthems, removed the Union Jack as one of the national ensigns (1957) and took over the naval base in Simon's Town from the Royal Navy (1957). The removal of these symbols of dual citizenship was seen as a victory for Afrikaner nationalism.

The NP's advance was the story of a people on the move, filled with enthusiasm about the 'Afrikaner cause'- putting their imprint on the state, defining its symbols, and giving their schools and universities a pronounced Afrikaans character. Political power steadily enhanced their social self-confidence. In the world of big business Rembrandt, Sanlam, Volkskas and other Afrikaner enterprises soon began to earn the respect of their English rivals.

However, apartheid policy steadily marginalised ethnic groups, and undermined their culture of and pride in their achievements. For others it seemed as if the Afrikaners were obsessed with fears about their own survival, and did not care about the damage and the hurt that apartheid inflicted upon others in a far weaker position.

The novelist Alan Paton made this comment about Afrikaner nationalism: “It is one of the deep mysteries of Afrikaner nationalist psychology that a Nationalist can observe the highest standards to­wards his own kind, but can observe an entirely different standard towards others, and more especially if they are not White.”

Malan was prime minister from 1948 to 1954, and was directly succeeded by J.G. Strijdom as leader and prime minister. This signalled the new dominance of the Transvaal in the NP caucus. Later, in the 1958 election, the NP won 103 seats and the UP just 53, with H. F. Verwoerd elected as the new Prime Minister.

The elected government greatly strengthened white control of the country, and apartheid rested on several bases. The most important were the restriction of all power to Whites, racial classification and racial sex laws. Laws also allocated group areas for each ra­cial community, segregated schools and universities, and eliminated integrated public facilities and sport. Whites were protected in the labour market, and a system of influx control that stemmed from Black urbanization lead to the creation of designated 'homelands' for Blacks. This was the basis for preventing them from demanding rights in the common area (timeline of Apartheid legislation).

Black South Africans had long protested their inferior treatment through organizations such as the African National Congress (ANC founded in 1912) and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (founded 1919 by Clements Kadalie). In the 1950s and early 1960s there were various protests against the National Party's policies, involving passive resistance and the burning of passbooks. In 1960, a peaceful anti- pass law protest in Sharpeville (near Johannesburg) ended when police opened fire, massacring 70 protesters and wounding about 190 others. This protest was organized by the Pan-Africanist Congress (an offshoot of the ANC). In the 1960s most leaders (including ANC leaders Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu) who opposed apartheid were either in jail or living in exile, while the government proceeded with its plans to segregate blacks on a more permanent basis. (Liberation Struggle in the 1960s).

What the 1948 government meant to the English-speaking White population?

While retaining their economic dominance, English-speakers continued to hold the key to future domestic fixed investment, and to foreign fixed investment. By 1948 the per capita income of English-speakers was more than double that of Afrikaners, and their level of edu­cation was much higher. They also identified with a culture that was vastly richer and more diverse than Afrikaans culture.

After the 1948 election the English community in South Africa found itself in the political wilderness. Patrick Duncan, son of a South African governor-general, wrote: “English South Africans are today in the power of their adversaries. They are the only English group of any size in the world today that is, and will remain for some time, a ruled, subordinated minority. They are beginning to know what the great majority of all South Africans have always known - what it is to be second-class citizens in the land of one's birth.”

For English-speaking business leaders, the NP victory came as a major shock, as the Smuts government had been ideal for English business. After 1948, English business leaders contributed substantially to the United South African Trust Fund that funded the UP- with a view to unseating the NP government. Ernest Oppenheimer, the magnate controlling the giant conglomerate Anglo American Corporation, was the main donor. However, business was hardly liberal, and this fund refused to back the Liberal Party that Alan Paton had helped to form after the 1953 election - which propagated a programme of a multi-racial democracy based on universal franchise.

By the mid-1950s, English business leaders were beginning to accept the status quo, and were working with the government. Manufacturers enthusiastically welcomed the government's policy of promoting growth and boosting import substitution through protection. Mining magnates reaped the benefits of a very cheap, docile labour force, while blaming the government for the system.

International reactions to the results of the 1948 election and the introduction of apartheid

The result of the 1948 election dismayed Britain, South Africa's principal foreign investor and trading partner. But with the shadow of the Cold War falling over the world, the priority for Western governments was to prevent South Africa, with its minerals and strategic location, from falling under communist influence. The British Labour government under Clement Attlee concluded that this aspect was more important than its revulsion for apartheid. He would soon offer South Africa access to the intelligence secrets of Britain and the United States.

In the southern states of America, segregation still held sway. A survey in 1942 found that only 2% of whites favoured school integration, only 12% residential integration, and only one-fifth thought the intelligence of blacks was on the same level as that of whites. Even among northern whites only 30-40% supported racial integration.

The West did not insist on a popular democracy in South Africa, arguing that such a system was impossible for the time being. During the 1950s it was not uncommon for Western leaders to express racist views. In 1951 Herbert Morrison, foreign secretary in the British Labour government, regarded independence for African colonies as compar­able to “giving a child often a latch-key, a bank account and a shotgun”.

Still, the defeat of Nazi Germany and the horror of the Holocaust had discredited racial ideologies, and speeded up pressure for racial integration, particularly in the United States. The granting of independence to India in 1947 was a major turning point in world history that intensified the pressure to grant subordinated ethnic groups their freedom. The General Assembly of the United Nations became an effective platform for the nations of the Third World to vent their anger over centuries of Western domination, and apartheid soon became the focus of their wrath.

The Republic of South Africa and Racial Strife (1960-1984)

One of these goals was achieved in 1960, when the White population voted in a referendum to sever South Africa's ties with the British Monarchy, and establish a republic. On 5 October 1960 South African whites were asked: “Do you support a republic for the Union?”. The result showed just over 52 per cent in favour of the change.

The opposition United Party actively campaigned for a “No” vote, while the smaller Progressive Party appealed to supporters of the proposed change to “reject this republic”, arguing that South Africa's membership of the Commonwealth, with which it had privileged trade links, would be threatened.

The National Party had not ruled out continued membership after the country became a republic, but the Commonwealth now had new Asian and African members who saw the apartheid regime's membership as an affront to the organisation's democratic principles. Consequently, South Africa left the Commonwealth on becoming a republic.

When the Republic of South Africa was declared on May 31, 1961, Queen Elizabeth II ceased to be head of state, and the last Governor General of the Union took office as the first State President. Charles Robberts Swart, the last Governor-General, was sworn in as the first State President (see “People”section for more detail about this position).

The State President performed mainly ceremonial duties and the ruling National Party decided against having an executive presidency, instead adopting a minimalist approach - a conciliatory gesture to English-speaking whites who were opposed to a republic. Like Governor-Generals before them, State Presidents were retired National Party ministers, and consequently, white, Afrikaner, and male. Therefore, HF Verwoerd remained on as the Prime Minister of the country.

In 1966, Prime Minister Verwoerd was assassinated by a discontented White government employee, and B.J. Vorster became the new Prime Minister. From the late 1960s, the Vorster government began attempts to start a dialogue on racial and other matters with independent African nations. These attempts met with little success, except for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Malawi and the adjacent nations of Lesotho, Botswana, and Swaziland - all of which were economically dependent on South Africa.

South Africa was strongly opposed to the establishment of Black rule in the White-dominated countries of Angola, Mozambique, and Rhodesia, and gave military assistance to Whites there. However, by late 1974, with independence for Angola and Mozambique under majority rule imminent, South Africa faced the prospect of further isolation from the international community - as one of the few remaining White-ruled nations of Africa. In the early 1970s, increasing numbers of whites (especially students) protested apartheid, and the National party itself was divided, largely on questions of race relations, into the somewhat liberal verligte [Afrikaans=enlightened] faction and the conservative verkrampte [Afrikaans,=narrow-minded] group.

In the early 1970s, black workers staged strikes and violently revolted against their inferior conditions. South Africa invaded Angola in 1975 in an attempt to crush mounting opposition in exile, but the action was a complete failure. In 1976, open rebellion erupted in the black township of Soweto, in protest against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in Black schools. Over the next few months, rioting spread to other large cities of South Africa, which resulted in the deaths of more than 600 Black people. In 1977, the death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko in police custody (under suspicious circumstances) prompted protests and sanctions.

The National Party increased its parliamentary majority in almost every election between 1948 and 1977, and despite all the protest against apartheid, the National Party got its best-ever result in the 1977 elections with support of 64.8% of the White voters and 134 seats in parliament out of 165.

Pieter Willem Botha became prime minister in 1978, and pledged to uphold apartheid as well as improve race relations. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the government granted “independence” to four homelands: Transkei (1976), Bophuthatswana (1977), Venda (1979), and Ciskei (1981). In the early 1980s, as the regime hotly debated the extent of reforms, Botha began to reform some of the apartheid policies. He legalised interracial marriages and multiracial political parties, and relaxed the Group Areas Act.

In 1984, a new constitution was enacted which provided for a Tricameral Parliament. The new Parliament included the House of Representatives, comprised of Coloureds the House of Delegates, comprised of Indians and the House of Assembly, comprised of Whites. This system left the Whites with more seats in the Parliament than the Indians and Coloureds combined. Blacks violently protested being shut out of the system, and the ANC and PAC, both of whom had traditionally used non-violent means to protest inequality, began to advocate more extreme measures (Umkhonto we Sizwe and the turn to the armed struggle).

Regime Unravels (1985-1991)

As attacks against police stations and other government installations increased, the regime announced an indefinite state of emergency in 1985. In 1986, Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, a black South African leader opposing apartheid, addressed the United Nations and urged further sanctions against South Africa. A wave of strikes and riots marked the 10th anniversary of the Soweto uprising in 1987.

In 1989, in the midst of rising political instability, growing economic problems and diplomatic isolation, President Botha fell ill and was succeeded, first as party leader, then as president, by F. W. de Klerk. Although a conservative, de Klerk realised the impracticality of maintaining apartheid forever, and soon after taking power, he decided that it would be better to negotiate while there was still time to reach a compromise, than to hold out until forced to negotiate on less favourable terms. He therefore persuaded the National Party to enter into negotiations with representatives of the Black community.

Late in 1989, the National Party won the most bitterly contested election in decades, pledging to negotiate an end to the apartheid system that it had established. Early in 1990 de Klerk's government began relaxing apartheid restrictions. The African National Congress (ANC) and other liberation organisations were legalized and Nelson Mandela was released after twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

In late 1991 the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), a multiracial forum set up by de Klerk and Mandela, began efforts to negotiate a new constitution, and a transition to a multiracial democracy with majority rule. In March 1992, voters endorsed constitutional reform efforts by a wide margin in a referendum open only to Whites. However, there was continued violent protests from opponents of the process, especially by supporters of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Zulu-based Inkatha movement - with the backing and sometimes active participation of the South African security forces.

The New South Africa and the New National Party (1993-2005)

Despite obstacles and delays, an interim constitution was completed in 1993. This ended nearly three centuries of white rule in South Africa, and marked the eradication of white-minority rule on the African continent. A 32-member multiparty transitional government council was formed with blacks in the majority, and in April 1994, days after the Inkatha Freedom party ended an electoral boycott, the republic's first multiracial election was held. The ANC won an overwhelming victory, and Nelson Mandela became president. South Africa also rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994 and relinquished its last hold in Namibia, by ceding the exclave of Walvis Bay.

In 1994 and 1995, the last vestiges of apartheid were dismantled, and a new national constitution was approved and adopted in May 1996. It provided for a strong presidency and eliminated provisions guaranteeing White-led and other minority party representation in the government. De Klerk and the National party supported the new charter, despite disagreement over some provisions. Shortly afterward, de Klerk and the National party quit the national unity government to become part of the opposition- the New National party after 1998. The new government faced the daunting task of trying to address the inequities produced by decades of apartheid, while promoting privatization and a favourable investment climate.

The liberal Democratic party became the leading opposition party, and in 2000 it joined forces with the New National Party to form the Democratic Alliance (DA). That coalition, however, survived only until late 2001, when the New National party left to form a coalition with the ANC.

Parliamentary elections in April 2004, resulted in a resounding victory for the ANC, which won nearly 70% of the vote, while the DA remained the largest opposition party and increased its share of the vote. The new parliament subsequently re-elected President Mbeki. As a result of its poor showing, the New National party merged with the ANC, and voted to disband in April 2005.

What won the NP the 1948 election? by Hermann Giliomee, PoliticsWeb, 22 October 2020


This Day in History: Sep 27, 1862: Gen. Louis Botha, soldier, statesman and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, is born.

Louis Botha (27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was an Afrikaner and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa—the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war hero during the Second Boer War he would eventually fight to have South Africa become a British Dominion.

He was born in Greytown (now in KwaZulu-Natal) as one of 13 children born to Louis Botha Senior (26 March 1827 – 5 July 1883) and Salomina Adriana van Rooyen (31 March 1829 – 9 January 1886). He briefly attended the school at Hermannsburg before his family relocated to the Orange Free State.

Botha led "Dinuzulu's Volunteers", a group of Boers that supported Dinuzulu against Zibhebhu in 1884. He later became a member of the parliament of Transvaal in 1897, representing the district of Vryheid.

In 1899, Botha fought in the Second Boer War, initially under Lucas Meyer in Northern Natal, and later as a general commanding and fighting with impressive capability at Colenso and Spioen kop. On the death of P. J. Joubert, he was made commander-in-chief of the Transvaal Boers, where he demonstrated his abilities again at Belfast-Dalmanutha. After the battle at the Tugela Botha granted a twenty-four hour armistice to General Buller to enable him to bury his dead.[2]

After the fall of Pretoria in March 1900, Botha led a concentrated guerrilla campaign against the British together with Koos de la Rey and Christiaan de Wet. The success of his measures was seen in the steady resistance offered by the Boers to the very close of the three-year war.


Botha was a representative of his countrymen in the peace negotiations of 1902, and was signatory to the Treaty of Vereeniging. After the grant of self-government to the Transvaal in 1907, General Botha was called upon by Lord Selborne to form a government, and in the spring of the same year he took part in the conference of colonial premiers held in London. During his visit to England on this occasion General Botha declared the whole-hearted adhesion of the Transvaal to the British Empire, and his intention to work for the welfare of the country regardless of (intra-white) racial differences (in this era referring to Boers/Afrikaners as a separate race to British South Africans).

He later worked towards peace with the British, representing the Boers at the peace negotiations in 1902. In the period of reconstruction under British rule, Botha went to Europe with de Wet and de la Rey to raise funds to enable the Boers to resume their former avocations.[4] Botha, who was still looked upon as the leader of the Boer people, took a prominent part in politics, advocating always measures which he considered as tending to the maintenance of peace and good order and the re-establishment of prosperity in the Transvaal. His war record made him prominent in the politics of Transvaal and he was a major player in the postwar reconstruction of that country, becoming Prime Minister of Transvaal on 4 March 1907. In 1911, together with another Boer war hero, Jan Smuts, he formed the South African Party, or SAP. Widely viewed as too conciliatory with Britain, Botha faced revolts from within his own party and opposition from James Barry Munnik Hertzog's National Party. When South Africa obtained dominion status in 1910, Botha became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.

After the First World War started, he sent troops to take German South West Africa, a move unpopular among Boers, which provoked the Boer Revolt.

At the end of the War he briefly led a British Empire military mission to Poland during the Polish-Soviet War. He argued that the terms of the Versailles Treaty were too harsh on the Central Powers, but signed the treaty. Botha was unwell for most of 1919. He was plagued by fatigue and ill-health that arose from his robust waist-line.[5] That he was fat is certain as related in the marvellous account of Lady Mildred Buxton asking General Van Deventer if he was bigger than Botha, to which Van Deventer replied: “I am longer, he is thicker.”[6] (In Afrikaans thicker literally means fatter.)

General Louis Botha died of heart failure on 27 August 1919 in the early hours of the morning. His wife Annie was at home and was joined by Engelenburg who had acted as a private secretary to Botha.[7] Botha was laid to rest in Heroes Acre Pretoria.

Of Botha, Winston Churchill wrote in Great Contemporaries, "The three most famous generals I have known in my life won no great battles over a foreign foe. Yet their names, which all begin with a 'B", are household words. They are General Booth, General Botha and General Baden-Powell. "[8]

Sculptor Raffaello Romanelli created the equestrian statue of Botha that stands outside Parliament in Cape Town in South Africa.


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