Self-Empowerment: Apartheid (1892 – )
Posted by tahirfarrath on March 2, 2010
Racial segregation in South Africa really began during the colonial times that resulted in the Franchise and Ballot Act of 1892 to disenfranchise the blacks, and the Natal Legislative Assembly Bill of 1894, which deprived Indians of the right to vote. The British colonial rulers introduced a system of Pass Laws in the Cape Colony and Colony of Natal during the 19th century. In 1905 the General Pass Regulations Bill denied blacks the vote altogether and limited them to fixed areas. (They simply feared being out-numbered.) Then followed the Asiatic Registration Act (1906) requiring all Indians to register and carry passes, and the South Africa Act (1910) that enfranchised whites, giving them complete political control over all other race groups and removing the right of blacks to sit in parliament. Non-Whites representation was short-lived. When the Union of South Africa was formed on 31 May 1910, the Afrikaner Nationalists had a relatively free hand to reorganise the country according to the Zuid Afrikaansche Repulick (ZAR – South African Republic or Transvaal) and Orange Free State.
The term Apartheid was introduced during the 1948 election campaign by DF Malan’s Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP – ‘Reunited National Party’). The United Party actually gained the majority of votes in the 1948 general election. But due to the manipulation of the geographical boundaries of the country’s constituencies before the election, the Herenigde Nasionale Party managed to win the majority of constitutencies and took power. In 1951 the HNP and Afrikaner Party officially merged to form the National Party, which became synonymous with Apartheid. From 1958, the blacks were deprived of their citizenship or legally becoming citizens of their own land.
Later reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid. This culminated in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid, nevertheless, still seem to shape South African politics and society.