Apartheid-era breakaway Conservative Party MP Tom Langley dies

2018-10-13 15:24
Tom Langley on the far left. (Supplied)

Tom Langley on the far left. (Supplied)

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Tom Langley, a founder of the apartheid-era Conservative Party (CP) died on Friday, the same day as his political foe Pik Botha.

"I can confirm he died yesterday [Friday] afternoon," said Corne Mulder, Chief Whip of the Freedom Front Front Plus, which has some of its roots in the CP.

It is understood that he died on his farm in Limpopo.

"He and Pik Botha had a political feud for many years and I know that he at some stage said he wanted to outlive Pik Botha. Ironically they died on the same day," said Mulder.

Botha died on Friday at home at the age of 86 after a spell in hospital.

READ: Former foreign affairs minister Pik Botha dies

Langley formed part of a group of National Party Members of Parliament led by Andries Treurnicht.

They would not accept former head of state PW Botha's apparent leanings towards "power sharing" with people not classified white, in an era of "swart gevaar" (black danger).

They construed this to be the first step towards a black government and erosion of the rights of minorities and Afrikaners. They were also deeply opposed to the anti-apartheid movement's association with the SA Communist Party and saw the movement as a threat to country's security.

They broke away to form the CP in 1982 and became the official opposition in Parliament, surpassing the liberal Progressive Federal Party, to the shock of many.

The party also called for a "no" vote in a referendum on whether there should be "power sharing" in the form of a tricameral parliament – where there would be separate houses of parliament for people classified as coloured and Indian, but not for black representatives. 

One of its leaders Clive Derby-Lewis was incarcerated for helping Polish national Janusz Walus kill SACP leader Chris Hani in 1993.

Mulder said Langley was the spokesperson for the CP and after the first democratic elections, the late former president Nelson Mandela posted Langley to Prague as ambassador for South Africa, in one of his characteristic politically inclusive moves.

Mulder said Mandela contacted the Freedom Front Plus and asked for names for the post and they suggested two. Mandela chose Langley for Prague and Carl Werth served as ambassador in Singapore.

Werth later joined the Democratic Party, predecessor to the DA, and then the ANC.

Mulder said Langley was a strong youth leader for the National Party when he entered politics and played an important role in the difficult days of the early 80s, when he was chairperson of the foreign affairs committee in Parliament.

He said it was while shadow minister of foreign affairs that he and Botha constantly disagreed.

Langley's constituency was Waterkloof before he left politics and went farming.

"But I think he played an important role. He was basically always in the leadership of the official opposition in those days."

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