Lucas Mangope. Picture: SOWETAN
Lucas Mangope. Picture: SOWETAN

Former Bophuthatswana leader Lucas Mangope has died at the age of 94.

Mangope was the leader of the apartheid-era homeland from 1977 to 1994.

The former high school teacher was widely criticised for being a puppet of the apartheid regime.

During the often-tense negotiations that paved the way to majority rule in 1994, Mangope maintained that Bophuthatswana would remain independent. He was ousted in a coup weeks before the elections that brought Nelson Mandela to power.

“I spoke to him [Mangope] on a number of occasions urging him to let his people decide, but he would not listen,” Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. The governing ANC extended its condolences on his passing while noting in a statement that Mangope was “an outspoken opponent of the democratisation project in SA”.

Mangope remained active in politics in the democratic era via the United Christian Democratic Party.

But by 2014 his party had lost all seats in national and provincial legislatures.

Mangope invited investors to Bophuthatswana and the gambling resort Sun City was established there, skirting the ban on casinos imposed by the socially conservative National Party.

Reuters, TimesLIVE