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Constitutional Background

On 8 May 1996, after the Interim Constitution of 1994, the Constitutional Assembly adopted a first version of the new Constitution. On 6 Sep 1996, the Constitutional Court decided: "We are unable to and therefore do not certify that all of the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 comply with the Constitutional Principles contained in schedule 4 to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993." Therefore, a second version had to be drafted. The amended text was adopted on 11 Oct 1996, certified by the Constitutional Court on 4 Dec 1996, signed into law by Nelson Mandela on the International Human Rights Day (10 Dec), and came into force on 4 Feb 1997.

History and News

  • 3 Feb 1997: Constitution in force, replacing the Interim Constitution of 27 April 1994.
  • 11 Oct 1996: Amended text of the constitution adopted. 
  • 6 Sep 1996: Constitutional Court decides that not all provisions of the new Constitution abide by the principles set forth in the Interim Constitution of 1994. 
  • 26 June 1996: Municipal elections in KwaZulu-Natal; Inkatha wins 35% (mainly regional councils) against ANC's 32% (mainly towns) of the overall vote; turnout was only 44%. 
  • 8 May 1996: Constitutional Assembly adopts the new constitution. 
  • 1 Nov 1995: Local Government Elections lead to 67% ANC victory. They end apartheid rule. 40% of local seats are filled by proportional representation, 30% by whites-only towns, and 30% by black townships. 
  • 10 May 1994: Nelson R. Mandela's inauguration as the first democratically elected President. 
  • 27 April 1994: Adoption of Interim Constitution and first elections peacefully concluded. 
  • Nov 1993: Interim Constitution produced my MPNP. 
  • April 1993: Multi-Party Negotiating Process (MPNP) resumes negotiations after backlash. 
  • Dec 1991: Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CoDeSA) starts negotiating process. 
  • Feb 1990: Liberation movements were unbanned, state of emergency lifted, and political prisoners freed; among the Nelson Mandela.
  • 1986: State of emergency becomes a virtually permanent feature of the political system.
  • 1983: Constitution establishing power-sharing of three population groups effectively excludes participation of blacks.
  • 1976: Soweto uprising; children killed by security forces.
  • 1964: Nelson Mandela is imprisoned on Robben Island.
  • 1960: Sharpeville incident; peaceful protesters against pass laws massacred by the police.
  • 1948: National Party comes to power and gradually forces blacks into so-called homelands.
  • 1909: Constitution of the Union of South Africa, adopted by the British Parliament, establishes the Westminster model in South Africa.
  • 1899-1902: South African War; after discovery of gold in Witwatersrand, Britain successfully fights the Boers.
  • 1835: First series of mass treks by Afrikaners (Boers) moved inland fighting Ndebele and Zulu.
  • 1795: Britain takes control of the Cape.
  • 1652: The Dutch establish a trading post at the Cape.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - December 16th, 2010 / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.