President Pieter W. Botha today announced a Cabinet reshuffle, dumping his hard-line justice and information ministers amid criticism of their handling of the country's 2-year-old black uprising against white rule.
Botha told reporters at a rare news conference that he was replacing hard-line Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange and Information Minister Louis Nel. A Cabinet reshuffle had been rumored for days.
Le Grange has faced widespread criticism from government opponents for his tough handling of the country's racial crisis. Security forces under his command killed more than half the 2,300 blacks slain in the 2-year-old uprising.
Botha said Le Grange, who is suffering from cancer, will take over the largely ceremonial post of Speaker in the white House of Assembly. He will be replaced by his deputy, Adriann Vlok, who is widely considered to be more sensitive to black demands.
Botha said Nel had not decided which of a number of options to accept. He has been responsible for the handling of the media during the black uprising, including the expulsion of reporters from Newsweek and other foreign media.
Botha said Nel will be replaced by Stoffel van der Merwe, a progressive lawmaker in the white house of Parliament and chief publicist for Botha's ruling National Party.
Botha also announced that he agreed to the retirement requests of the ministers of transportation, communications and agriculture and moved control of the state-run South African Broadcasting Corp. into his office.