The political history of South Africa

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

5 Pages, Grade: 1 (A)

Free online reading

1. Statistics

1.1 Geographical

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1.2 Land Description

South Africa has a subtropical climate and, according to its location on the southern half of our planet, a cold summer and a mild winter. The temperature differences between days and nights are also very hard. The precipitation rate is about 500 up to 1.000 mm per qm, mostly caused by heavy summer storms. In the inside of the country you’ll find mostly high plains, surrounded by high mountains. The high plains consist of quilts, bush land and deserts. On the eastern shore are some forests. As a result of this variety of landscapes and the pretty dry climate there are only few animals and vegetation. South Africa consists of nine provinces:

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2. History

2.1 Early History

In the AD 100s Bantu-speaking people migrated into today’s South Africa from the north, displacing other tribes of hunter-gatherers. South Africa was “discovered” in 1488 by the protugese Vasco da Gama; in the following the Cap of good hope became an important trade-station for European ships und their route to Asia.

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Vasco da Gama

2.2 Colonization History

When Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 founded a Point of support for the ships of the East-India Company, South Africa was still inhabited by Bantu-speaking people, like the Hottentots or other bush-people. In the same year

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Jan van Riebeeck

Dutch settler founded a colony at Cape Town. At the end of the 18th century merely 15.000 people lived in the European colonies. But Cape Town quickly increased to a melting pod of Dutch, German and French people, who suppressed the bush-people and made them slaves. The descendants of the white settlers called themselves “Boers” and spoke a Dutch dialect, known as Afrikaans.

In 1795 they tried to establish their own independent republic, but were defeated by the British. Towards the end of the Napoleonic wars (1814) the Britain gained control of most of South Africa. As a result of this occupying, the old “population” in 1835 started a trek to the north and east into African tribal territory, where they established their new republics of the Transvaal and The Orange Free State. In 1843 Britain annexed Natal. In 1852 the Transvaal became independent, followed by the Orange Free State two years later. In 1879 the British forces defeated the Zulu.

When the first founds of Diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1876 became public, the British Empire after a great war (Boer War) from 1899 to 1902 also annexed Transvaal and Orange Free State. This led in 1910 to the “Union of South Africa,” which consisted of Transvaal, Orange free State, Natal and Cape. This year was also the beginning of Apartheid, although the word was officially introduced in 1948.

Apartheid means the division of races. The word is Afrikaans and means seclusion. The system Apartheid means the strict division of the white minority and the black majority of the population (Apartheid ended in 1994, when the first free elections took place.)

In 1912 the African Nation Congress (ANC) was founded to fight against the unjust policy of government.

During World War One South African troops seized German colonies. South Africa kept Namibia, the former Afrika” after the war.

2.3 Commonwealth History

In 1931 South Africa gained full independence as a full member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Jan Christiaan Smuts led the nation into World War Two on the allied side against national opposition; in 1945 South Africa became a Charta member of the UN, but declined to sign the universal declaration of Human rights.

Apartheid, in South Africa the term meant any non-white person, dominated domestic policy as the Nationalists gained power and imposed greater restriction on Bantus, Asians and coloured people. “Deutsch-Süd-West-

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Jan Christiaan Smuts

In the fifties the Apartheid became official policy of South Africa. African voters were removed from the voter rolls in 1936. The ANC declared South Africa to be property of all of its inhabitants and headed for the abolishment of Apartheid. The government in 1960 prohibited the ANC, along with all other black African organizations; Trigger for this was the armed resistance of the black movements.

Africa hostility to Britain triumphed on May 31st in 1961 with the declaration of the “Republic of South Africa.”

2.4 Apartheid History

In 1962 the government released the so-called which punished most forms of political engagement.

As the result of this law the ANC and PAC (Pan- Africanist Congress) decided to use armed resistance as the main tool against regime.

In 1964 Nelson Mandela, leader of the ANC, was accused of sabotage and betrayal and condemned life-long.

The army tore down riots, when 10.000s of pupils demonstrated against Apartheid in Soweto in 1976.

The results of the elections of 1984, which “Sabotage-Law”

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Nelson Mandela

was won by president Botha, who had a policy of limited reforms, indicated a strong conservative reaction on his policy.

1988 South Africa agreed to allow Namibia to become am independent country

A stroke led Botha to step down as leader of his party in 1989 in favour of F.W. De Klerk. De Klerk

accelerated the pace of reform. He removed the ban from the African National Congress, the principal anti-apartheid organization, and released Nelson Mandela,

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Pieter Botha

the ANC president, after 27 years of imprisonment. Negotiations between the

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Frederik de Klerk

government and the ANC commenced.

On June 5th 1991 Apartheid was abolished by the parliament. Two weeks later the Parliament scrapped the law for Population Registration Act of 1950, which classified all South Africans at birth by race. In February 1999 the ANC approved a plan that would allow minority parties to participate in the government for five years after the end of white rule. In the same month the first non-whites entered the cabinet.

Also in 1999 the Nobel Peace Price was awarded to Nelson Mandela and De Klerk.

Mandela led the ANC to victory in South Africa’s first free elections and became president. The new government included six ministers from the National Party and three from the Inkatha Freedom Party.

In 1997 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Desmond Tutu, began hearings regarding human rights violations between 1960 and 1993. The commission promised amnesty to those who confessed their crimes under the Apartheid system. Even the two former presidents, De Klerk and Botha, and some leaders of the ANC appeared before the commission, and the nation continued to grapple with its enlightened but often painful and divisive process of national recovery.

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Desmond Tutu

3. Current South Africa

Nelson Mandela, whose term as president cemented his reputation as one of the world’s most enlightened statesmen, retired in 1999. On June 2nd 1999, Thabo Mbeki, the pragmatic deputy president of South Africa and leader of the African National Congress, was elected president in a landslide, having already assumed many of Mandela’s governing responsibilities

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Thabo Mbeki


- Südafrika, Harald Bilger, Piper Verlag, 1982, ISBN: 3-492-02739-3
- Some texts from unknown authors extracted from the internet (found by using the INFOSEEK ™ search engine)
- All pictures are taken from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online

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The political history of South Africa
1 (A)
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A short overview over the political history of South Africa with a special view on the Commonwealth and Apartheidt
South, Africa
Quote paper
Angela Burzel (Author), 2000, The political history of South Africa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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