Suffrage - History of Suffrage Around The World - South Africa

South Africa

  • 1910 — The Union of South Africa is established by the South Africa Act 1909. The House of Assembly is elected by first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies. The franchise qualifications are the same as those previously existing for elections of the legislatures of the colonies that comprised the Union. In the Transvaal and the Orange Free State the franchise is limited to white men. In Natal the franchise is limited to men meeting property and literacy qualifications; it was theoretically colour-blind but in practise nearly all non-white men were excluded. The traditional "Cape Qualified Franchise" of the Cape Province is limited to men meeting property and literacy qualifications and is colour-blind; nonetheless 85% of voters are white. The rights of non-white voters in the Cape Province are protected by an entrenched clause in the South Africa Act requiring a two-thirds vote in a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
  • 1930 — The Women's Enfranchisement Act, 1930 extends the right to vote to all white women over the age of 21.
  • 1931 — The Franchise Laws Amendment Act, 1931 removes the property and literacy qualifications for all white men over the age of 21, but they are retained for non-white voters.
  • 1936 — The Representation of Natives Act, 1936 removes black voters in the Cape Province from the common voters' roll and instead allows them to elect three "Native Representative Members" to the House of Assembly. Four Senators are to be indirectly elected by chiefs and local authorities to represent black South Africans throughout the country. The act is passed with the necessary two-thirds majority in a joint sitting.
  • 1951 — The Separate Representation of Voters Act, 1951 is passed by Parliament by an ordinary majority in separate sittings. It purports to remove coloured voters in the Cape Province from the common voters' roll and instead allow them to elect four "Coloured Representative Members" to the House of Assembly.
  • 1952 — In Harris v Minister of the Interior the Separate Representation of Voters Act is annulled by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court because it was not passed with the necessary two-thirds majority in a joint sitting. Parliament passes the High Court of Parliament Act, 1952, purporting to allow it to reverse this decision, but the Appellate Division annuls it as well.
  • 1956 — By packing the Senate and the Appellate Division, the government passes the South Africa Act Amendment Act, 1956, reversing the annulment of the Separate Representation of Voters Act and giving it the force of law.
  • 1958 — The Electoral Law Amendment Act, 1958 reduces the voting age for white voters from 21 to 18.
  • 1959 — The Promotion of Bantu Self-government Act, 1959 repeals the Representation of Natives Act, removing all representation of black people in Parliament.
  • 1968 — The Separate Representation of Voters Amendment Act, 1968 repeals the Separate Representation of Voters Act, removing all representation of coloured people in Parliament.
  • 1969 — The first election of the Coloured Persons Representative Council (CPRC), which has limited legislative powers, is held. Every Coloured citizen over the age of 21 can vote for it, in first-past-the-post elections in single-member constituencies.
  • 1978 — The voting age for the CPRC is reduced from 21 to 18.
  • 1981 — The first election of the South African Indian Council (SAIC), which has limited legislative powers, is held. Every Indian South African citizen over the age of 18 can vote for it, in first-past-the-post elections in single-member constituencies.
  • 1984 — The Constitution of 1983 establishes the Tricameral Parliament. Two new Houses of Parliament are created, the House of Representatives to represent coloured citizens and the House of Delegates to represent Indian citizens. Every coloured and Indian citizen over the age of 18 can vote in elections for the relevant house. As with the House of Assembly, the members are elected by first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies. The CPRC and SAIC are abolished.
  • 1994 — With the end of apartheid, the Interim Constitution of 1993 abolishes the Tricameral Parliament and all racial discrimination in voting rights. A new National Assembly is created, and every South African citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote for the assembly. Elections of the assembly are based on party-list proportional representation. The right to vote is entrenched in the Bill of Rights.
  • 1999 — In August and Another v Electoral Commission and Others the Constitutional Court rules that prisoners cannot be denied the right to vote without a law that explicitly does so.
  • 2003 — The Electoral Laws Amendment Act, 2003 purports to prohibit convicted prisoners from voting.
  • 2004 — In Minister of Home Affairs v NICRO and Others the Constitutional Court rules that prisoners cannot be denied the right to vote, and invalidates the laws that do so.
  • 2009 — In Richter v Minister for Home Affairs and Others the Constitutional Court rules that South African citizens outside the country cannot be denied the right to vote.

Read more about this topic:  Suffrage, History of Suffrage Around The World

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