How accurate is it to say that P W Botha’s attempts to reform the system of apartheid, in the years 1983-89, were a complete failure?

How accurate is it to say that P W Botha’s attempts to reform the system of apartheid, in the years 1983-89, were a complete failure?

President P. W. Botha was eager to promote constitutional changes and hoped to implement a federal system in South Africa that would allow for greater self-rule for black people while still retaining the supremacy of a white central government.

To this end Botha implemented some superficial changes to apartheid practices in South Africa, such as the legalization of interracial marriages and miscegenation, which were banned in South Africa since the late 1940s.

The prohibition on multiracial political parties was lifted. He also relaxed laws which barred non-whites from living in certain areas(white areas), thus creating racially mixed neighborhoods.

In 1983, Botha proposed a new constitution. Although it fell short of creating a federal system it created a power sharing agreement with the Indians and Colored people. The new constitution allowed Colored and the Indians to have sole jurisdiction over matters relating to their respective communities.

However, the new constitution failed to grant the black majority any formal role in the government. The new system simply had no representation for the black majority.

In spite of the concessions made by Botha, the apartheid years under his leadership were by far the most brutal. Thousands of black people were detained without trial during Botha’s era, while others were tortured, disappeared or executed without trail.

These reforms were too far for the white hardliners but too little for the black South Africans.
Botha refused to cede political power to blacks and imposed greater security measures against anti-apartheid activists. Botha also refused to negotiate with the ANC and ignored calls for the release of Mandela.

President Botha’s defiance of international community further isolated the white regime in South Africa, leading to economic sanctions and a rapid decline in the value of the local currency “rand”. As a result, international action against the apartheid regime in South Africa became inevitable.

The United States, Europe and the United Kingdom where the anti-apartheid was based imposed string of sanctions against the apartheid regime. The imposition of economic and diplomatic sanctions against South Africa accelerated and civil unrest spread amongst the black population spearheaded by the ANC.

The western countries saw the economic sanctions against the apartheid as an opportunity to weaken Botha and bring his white regime to its knee. By late 1980s as foreign investment in South Africa dried up, the economy collapsed and disinvestment began to have a serious impact on the country’s economy.

President P. W. Botha tried to solicit support from the west by arguing that the ANC was a communist organization but to no avail. Thus, Botha’s effort to save the white regime in South Africa failed.