Now that the South African Prime Minister, Mr. John Vorster, has announced his intention to?
Now that the South African Prime Minister, Mr. John Vorster, has announced his intention to resign on health grounds, the ruling National Party will have to decide who should succeed him. A party meeting is expected to take the decision towards the end of next week (25 - 29 September) and four members of the South African cabinet have been mentioned as the most likely candidates.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Pieter Willem Botha, the Defence Minister, is one of the favourites. He is 62, and the most senior member of the cabinet after Mr. Vorster. He has been in the government for 20 years and Defence Minister for 13. He was present at the test launching of the first South African guided missile in 1968.
Mr. Botha has a reputation as a hard-line conservative, which may appeal to the party caucus at the present time. but he has one major political disadvantage: he is the party leader in Cape Province, and the National party draws its strength mainly from the Transvaal. The other candidates are all Transaalers.
Dr. Cornelius - or "Connie" - Mulder, with President Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivory Coast in 1976. He was then Minister of Information and was returning the first visit ever made to South Africa by a minister from a West African state. Financial difficulties in the Ministry of Information did little for Dr. Mulder's standing; but he is now in charge of black African affairs, and has won praise for dealing with them from a pragmatic rather than an ideological point of view.
Mr. Stephanus ("Fanie") Botha, Minister of Labour, has said he will not stand, but could still emerge as a compromise choice. The Foreign Minister, Mr. Roelof ("Pik") Botha, is in the field, despite remarks he made last year in London.