Vorster, John

orig. Balthazar Johannes Vorster

born Dec. 13, 1915, Jamestown, Cape Province, S.Af.
died Sept. 10, 1983, Cape Town

South African prime minister (1966–78).

Vorster was arrested in 1942 for supporting Germany in World War II. In the 1948 elections he was rejected by the National Party as too extreme, but his support grew in the 1950s. As minister of justice (1961–66) under Hendrik Verwoerd, he rigidly enforced apartheid. When Verwoerd was assassinated, Vorster was chosen to replace him. In the 1970s he sent troops into Angola against its Soviet-and Cuban-supported government. He resigned in 1978 and took the ceremonial post of president, but a scandal forced his resignation.

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▪ prime minister of South Africa
original name  Balthazar Johannes Vorster 
born Dec. 13, 1915, Jamestown, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
died Sept. 10, 1983, Cape Town
 right-wing Nationalist politician, prime minister of the Republic of South Africa (1966–78), who was elected president in 1978 but was forced to resign the following year because of a political scandal.

      The 13th child of a wealthy Afrikaner sheep farmer, he studied at the University of Stellenbosch, where he gained attention as a Nationalist student leader. In 1938 Vorster left the university to act as registrar to the judge-president at the Cape, and the next year he practiced law at Port Elizabeth. During World War II Vorster helped to found the anti-British Ossewa Brandwag (Ox-Wagon Guard) and became a “general” in its extremist wing. Expressing his contempt for the democracies and respect for Germany, Vorster was arrested for undermining the war effort in 1942. He was released after 14 months and allowed to resume his legal practice.

      Vorster tried to enter politics after the war but was at first rejected by the National Party. He was narrowly defeated in the 1948 parliamentary election. By 1953, however, he was accepted by the party and was a successful candidate from the Nigel constituency in the Transvaal. As a leading member of the National Party's right wing, Vorster helped to bring to power Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, who became prime minister in 1958. Vorster, in turn, was appointed deputy minister of education, arts and science, and social welfare in October. He soon gained a reputation for rigid enforcement of apartheid policies. When Verwoerd decided that a firmer hand was needed after the serious interracial disturbances at Sharpeville (March 1960), Vorster was made minister of justice, police, and prisons. With expanded legal authority, Vorster vigorously suppressed and harassed opponents of his government's racial policies.

      One week after Verwoerd was assassinated (September 1966), a National Party caucus chose Vorster as his successor. He had rivals for the office, but none could match the support he received from the combined forces of the party's strong right wing, the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church), and the influential Broederbond, a secret Afrikaner society. Despite his vow to uphold apartheid, his program was, in practice, more liberal than his predecessor's. He did much to remove hated symbols of the separatist policy and some of the grosser practices of racial discrimination. He was quick to understand the change of power in southern Africa after the collapse of the Portuguese colonial empire in 1974 and offered cooperation with neighbouring black African leaders in trying to achieve a peaceful settlement of the continuing crises in Rhodesia and Namibia (South West Africa). This advantage was lost, however, when he sent South African forces into Angola in an unsuccessful effort to oppose Soviet and Cuban support for the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). He worked with the U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger to persuade Ian Smith of Rhodesia to share power with black leaders, while remaining adamantly opposed to any such future for South Africa.

      In September 1978 Vorster resigned his post for reasons of health and on October 10 became his nation's president, a largely ceremonial position. In November the so-called Muldergate scandal (involving misappropriation of huge sums of government money and abuse of the parliamentary system), which had been simmering for months, came to a boil. Continuing revelations in the scandal shook the country and the National Party. On June 4, 1979, after an investigating commission reported that Vorster had known all about the misuse of funds and had helped to conceal the abuse, he resigned the presidency.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vorster, John — orig. Balthazar Johannes Vorster (13 dic. 1915, Jamestown, Provincia de El Cabo, Sudáfrica–10 sep. 1983, Ciudad de El Cabo). Primer ministro sudafricano (1966–78). Fue arrestado en 1942 por apoyar a Alemania en la segunda guerra mundial. En las… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Vorster — John Vorster Balthazar Johannes (John) Vorster (1915 1983) était un homme politique d Afrique du Sud, membre du Parti national, ministre de la justice de 1961 à 1966, premier ministre de 1966 à 1978 et Président de la république de 1978 à 1979. À …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • John Vorster — Balthazar Johannes (John) Vorster (13 décembre 1915 10 septembre 1983) était un homme politique d Afrique du Sud, membre du Parti national, ministre de la justice de 1961 à 1966, Président du Parti National et premier ministre de 1966 à 1978, et… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Vorster — biographical name John 1915 1983 originally Balthazar Johannes Vorster prime minister of Republic of South Africa (1966 78) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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