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In June 1984 Margaret Thatcher welcomed South Africa’s P. W. Botha to Chequers. It was the first time a British Prime Minister had received a South African leader since Hendrik Verwoerd’s visit in 1961, when he led the country out of the Commonwealth.
Mrs Thatcher did so in the face of fierce opposition from the Anti-Apartheid Movement and some of Britain’s key friends in Africa, including Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda. But, as papers released under the thirty year rule reveal, Mrs Thatcher did not waver in her opposition to Botha’s racial policies.
“Many people in Britain had relatives in South Africa. So that was a natural reservoir of goodwill,” the Prime Minister told her visitor at the opening of their meeting. “But our political attitude was affected by one enormous problem”: “we felt strongly that peoples’ rights should not be determined by the colour of their skin. Particular repugnance was felt at the forced removal of blacks to new areas. We appreciate the great strategic importance of South Africa. Nor did we wish Communism to spread in Africa or elsewhere because to us Communism represented denial of human dignity.” – Politicsweb.co.za Click here for the full story.
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