Andries Treurnicht dies in Cape Town hospital: Right loses strong stabilising force, writes John Carlin
Friday 23 April 1993
The death of Dr Treurnicht, known as 'Dr No' for his consistent opposition to government reforms during the last decade, will be a severe blow to the party that has been the official opposition since 1987, according to parliamentary sources. Tensions between moderates, who seek a negotiated accommodation with the black majority, and hardliners more politically inclined towards the firebrand politics of Eugene Terre-Blanche, seem likely to lead to a split.
Treurnicht's heir-apparent, the deputy party leader Ferdi Hartzenberg, is a less sophisticated, more rigid politician than Treurnicht, who was seen as a stabilising force on the factious South African right.
The conclusion was irresistible last night that Treurnicht's death had been accelerated by the arrest of the Conservative Party stalwart Clive Derby-Lewis on Saturday in connection with the assassination of the African National Congress leader Chris Hani. Treurnicht, who stood up to those in his party and beyond who advocated political violence, was close to Mr Derby-Lewis, with whom he went on a European tour in 1989.
In recent months Treurnicht had softened his party's traditionally inflexible stance, agreeing to do what he had previously vowed never to contemplate - participate in multi-party constitutional talks with the ANC and their Communist Party allies. His party's central demand remained extreme and unlikely to be met - an independent 'Boer' nation outside 'the new South Africa' - but at least, as his political opponents note, he had persuaded his party to seek the road of peaceful negotiation.
Treurnicht, who became a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1946, had by his own standards moderated his political tactics - if not his bedrock apartheid beliefs - in later life.
An important clerical ally in the Sixties of the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd, he became a member of parliament of the long-ruling National Party in 1971. In 1976, as deputy minister of Bantu Education, he insisted that black children should receive more of their education in Afrikaans, an insensitive position which sparked the Soweto riots that year and galvanised what in previous years had become a relatively moribund, shackled, black liberation movement.
Opposing the decision of the prime minister, P W Botha, in the early Eighties to admit Asians and mixed- race Coloureds to parliament, he quit the National Party with 15 other MPs in 1982 and formed the Conservative Party. He improved his party's parliamentary representation both in the 1987 and 1989 whites-only elections but suffered a crushing reverse a year ago when, in a national referendum, an overwhelming majority of whites voted for President F W de Klerk's proposals for sharing power with the black majority.
That seemed to be the end for Treurnicht. But he entered into a loose alliance - the Concerned South Africans Grouping (Cosag) - at the end of last year with Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party and other right-wing black leaders. Cosag has since fallen by the wayside and the Conservative Party has headed back into the white laager, striving, increasingly hopelessly, to push peacefully for a Boer republic.
South African police yesterday released two more of the people detained in connection with Hani's murder. Still detained are Mr Derby- Lewis, his wife, Gaye, and the alleged gunman, Janusz Walus.
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
Greece debt crisis explainer: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
Greece debt crisis referendum: Greeks want to vote No to austerity – but Yes to Europe
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...