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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

De Villiers, Dawid Jacobus (Dawie)

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Dawie de Villiers was born on 10 July 1940 in Burgersdorp, South Africa, one of three children. Dawie's father was a railway clerk, organiser for the National Party (NP), and Member of Parliament for Vasco from 1953 to 1961. He matriculated from Bellville High School in 1959.

He obtained a degree in Theology and an Honours Decree in Philosophy from the University of Stellenbosch. He was the 1962-3 chair of the Student Representative Council. He was opposed to the traditional politics of the National Party (NP) and was regarded as leftist by his peers. De Villiers was an active participant within the ranks of the NP at university, serving on the NP Student Committee. He also excelled in rugby and became involved in all levels of the sport, including representing South Africa in 25 test matches, and administration at top level. His first international test match was in 1962 against the British Lions, when aged 22. In 1976 he captained the 'Springboks' in New Zealand.

In 1963-1964 he held a temporary lecturing post in philosophy at the University of the Western Cape and was awarded the Abe Bailey and Markotter scholarships. On completing his theology degree he became the minister of the Wellington Dutch Reformed Church from 1967 to 1969. He then lectured at Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). In 1972 he completed an Masters degree in philosophy and received an overseas scholarship. The RAU rector, Gerrit Viljoen, persuaded him at this time to become active in politics. Against his father's wishes De Villiers became MP for Johannesburg West and kept his seat in the elections of 1974 and 1977. During this period he was the RAU Convocation President and Chair of the NP's Foreign Affairs Committee. The University of Stellenbosch awarded De Villiers a philosophy doctorate in 1979.

In April 1979 De Villiers became the South African Ambassador in London. On his return in October 1980 he became Minister of Trade and Industry. The following year he contested the Gardens constituency in Cape Town, but lost to Ken Andrews of the Progressive Federal Party. He subsequently became the MP for Piketberg, Cape Town. While he was the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Liquor Act was passed which desegregated South African bars (at owners' discretion) and the South African Tourist Board was established. In 1983 he called a commission to investigate monopolies, and he stimulated small business in rural and 'homeland' areas. In 1989 he became Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs, and of Public Enterprises as well as Cape NP leader. During the Groote Schuur talks with the ANC, and at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) talks, he was one of the NP delegates.

He was appointed Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the post-apartheid government and subsequently became Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).

Source: Gastrow, S. (1992). Who's Who in South African Politics Vol.4, Johannesburg: Ravan, pp.64 - 66.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.