The Constitution of the Cape Colony, 1852 (officially the Cape of Good Hope Constitution Ordinance) was the Cape Colony's first and only written constitutional document, passed on 3 April 1852 by the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope, then still an official colony of the British Empire.
- I. WHEREAS Her Majesty did by certain Letters Patent, bearing date at Westminster, on the 23d day of May, in the thirteenth year of her reign, amongst other things, declare and ordain that there should be within the settlement of the Cape of Good Hope a Parliament, to consist of the Governor, a Legislative Council, and House of Assembly; and did declare, ordain, and appoint that the said Legislative Council (subject to the exception herein-after contained) and the said House of Assembly should consist and be constituted of such persons as should be elected in such manner and form, and for such terms and under such regulations as should for that purpose be prescribed in any Ordinance or Ordinances to be for that purpose passed by the Governor of the said settlement, with the advice and consent of the then president Legislative Council thereof; provided, nevertheless, that it should be prescribed in and by such Ordinance or Ordinances that the Chief Justice of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope for the time being should be, by virtue of his office, a member of the said Legislative Council, and should preside over the same; provided also, that every such Ordinance should contain a clause suspending the operation of the same until it should have been confirmed by Her Majesty, with the advice of her Privy Council; and Her said Majesty did thereby declare her will and pleasure that the said Governor, with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly so to be constituted and elected in manner and form aforesaid, should have authority to make laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the said settlement; and that in the said Ordinance or Ordinances for constituting the said Legislative Council and House of Assembly, provisions should be made for enabling and empowering the said Governor to transmit to the said Legislative Council or House of Assembly, for their consideration, the drafts of any laws which it might appear to him desirable to introduce, and also any amendments for the consideration of the said Legislative Council and House of Assembly (if he should so think fit) in any bill presented to him for Her said Majesty's assent, and for prescribing the manner in which such drafts of laws and amendments should be dealt with by the said Legislative Council and House of Assembly, and for determining the regulations under which bills appropriating sums of money to the public service might be introduced in such Assembly, amended, and finally enacted; and for empowering the said Governor, from time to time, in the exercise of his discretion, to dissolve such Legislative Council and House of Assembly together, or such House of Assembly separately: And whereas Her said Majesty did thereby reserve to herself full power and authority, by an Order or Orders to be made by her in her Privy Council, to alter or amend such Ordinance or Ordinances as should be so passed as aforesaid, for the purpose of constituting and establishing the said Council and Assembly, and for such other purposes as are therein-before specified: Be it therefore enacted by the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council thereof, that the Legislative Council and House of Assembly for the said Colony shall be severally constituted and composed as is herein-after provided.
- 2. And be it enacted, That the said Legislative Council shall consist of the Chief Justice for the time being of the said Colony, and of fifteen elective members; and the said Chief Justice (when present) shall preside in the said Council: Provided that it shall be at all times lawful for the said Chief Justice (notwithstanding his so acting as President) to take part in any debate or discussion which may arise in the Legislative Council.
- 3. And be it enacted, That five members of the said Council shall form a quorum for the despatch of business; and all questions arising in the said Council shall be decided by a majority of votes of the members present other than the presiding member; but when the votes shall be equal the presiding member shall have the casting vote.
- 4. And be it enacted, That of the fifteen elective members of the said Council, eight shall be elected by the majority of the votes taken, as herein-after mentioned, of the voters in and for the following electoral divisions of the said Colony collectively; that is to say, the divisions of the Cape (exclusive of the city of Cape Town), Stellenbosch, Caledon, Swellendam, George, Beaufort, the Paarl, Worcester, Malmesbury, Clanwilliam, and the city of Cape Town (including the municipality of Green Point), which divisions shall for the purposes of this Ordinance constitute and are herein-after collectively referred to as the western districts; and the remaining seven of the said members shall be elected by the majority of votes so taken of the voters in and for the following electoral divisions of the said Colony collectively; that is to say, the divisions of Albany (exclusive of the town of Graham's Town), Uitenhange, Port Elizabeth, Fort Beaufort, Victoria, Albert, Somerset, Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Colesberg, and the town of Graham's Town, which divisions shall for the purposes of this Ordinance constitute and are herein-after collectively referred to as the eastern districts.
- 5. And be it enacted, That of the fifteen members first elected of the said Council, eight, that is to say, four of those elected for the western districts, and four of those elected for the eastern districts respectively, shall vacate their seats at the expiration of five years from the date of such first election, and the members who shall so vacate their seats shall be those of the members elected for the western districts and eastern districts respectively who have been elected by the fewest votes; and in case, by reason of any such members having been elected by an equal number of votes, it be uncertain which of such members should vacate his seat, the Governor shall cause such question to be determining by lot among such members elected by an equal number of votes, such lot to be drawn in the presence of one of the Judges of the Supreme Courts, and of such members or their agents authorized in writing (in case of such member or agents think fit to attend); and the remaining seven members shall vacate their seats at the expiration of ten years from the date of such first election; and upon the vacating of their seats by such eight members and such seven members respectively, there shall be elected for the western districts and eastern districts respectively, a number of members of the said Council, equal to the number of members elected for such districts respectively, whose seats have become vacant, and the members to be so elected shall hold their seats for ten years from the date of their election, so that all the elective members of the said Council, save the aforesaid eight members of the fifteen first elected, shall hold their seats for the term of ten years, and so that there shall be an election of eight members, and an election of seven members alternately, at the end of every five years for ever: Provided that every member vacating his seat under the provisions of this section shall be eligible to be re-elected, and provided that nothing herein contained shall prevent the Governor from at any time dissolving the said Council, under the power herein-after in that behalf contained.
- 6. And be it enacted, That the House of Assembly of the Cape of Good Hope shall consist of forty-six members, elected in the manner herein-after in that behalf provided, for a term of five years from the date of election, and that twelve members, exclusive of the member presiding in the said Assembly, shall form a quorum for the despatch of business; and that all questions which shall arise in the said Assembly shall be decided by a majority of votes of the members present, other than the presiding member; and that when the votes shall be equal, the presiding member shall have the casting vote.
- 7. And be it enacted, That the divisions of the Cape (exclusive of the city of Cape Town), Malmesbury, Stellenbosch, the Paarl, Clanwilliam, Swellendam, Caledon, George, Uitenhange, Port Elizabeth, Albany (exclusive of the town of Graham's Town), Fort Beaufort, Victoria, Albert, Somerset, Graff-Reinet, Cradock, Colesburg, Beaufort, and Worcester, and the city of Cape Town, and the town of Graham's Town, shall, respectively, be electoral divisions within the meaning and for the purposes of this Ordinance; provided that for the purposes of this Ordinance the division of the city of Cape Town shall include the municipality of Green Point...
- 8. And be it enacted, That every male person, not subject to any of the legal incapacities herein-after mentioned, who shall have occupied within any electoral division for the space of twelve months next before the day on which any such registration of voters as is herein-after mentioned shall commence, any house, warehouse, shop, or other building, being either separately or jointly, with any land within such electoral division, occupied therewith, of the value of twenty-five pounds sterling; or who shall have been, for the space of twelve months aforesaid, really and bona fide in the receipt of salary or wages at and after the rate of not less than fifty pounds by the year; or who having been in the receipt for the space aforesaid, of salary or wages at and after the rate of not less than twenty-five pounds by the year, shall, in addition to such salary or wages, have been supplied with board and lodging, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter, and to vote at elections of members of the said Council, and of members of the said House of Assembly...
- 9. [Certain joint occupiers entitled to be registered.]
- 10. And be it enacted, That no person shall be entitled to be registered as a voter, or to vote at any election of members of the Legislative Council or Assembly of the Cape of Good Hope, unless he be of the full age of twenty-one years, and either a natural born subject of Her Majesty the Queen, or a subject of Her Majesty the Queen who, though not natural born, was, before and on the eighteenth of January one thousand eight hundred and six, a subject of the Batavian Government, resident in this colony, and who, from thence hitherto, has resided or maintained a domicile in the said Colony, or unless, if of alien birth, and not such a subject as last aforesaid, he shall have been naturalized by some Act of the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland, or of the Legislature of the Cape of Good Hope, or shall before the commencement and taking effect of this Ordinance have obtained a deed of burghership, and that no person shall be entitled to be registered as a voter or to vote who is of unsound mind, or who shall have been convicted of and sentenced for treason, murder, rape, theft, fraud, perjury, or forgery, unless he shall have received a free pardon.
- II. [Register or voters in each electoral division to be formed.]
- 12. [Lists of voters for the several field-cornetcies, how to be framed.]
- 13-32. [Manner of making out voters' lists.]
- 33. And be it enacted, That no personal shall be qualified to be elected a member of the said Council who would, under and by virtue of any of the provision of this Ordinance, be incapacitated to be registered as a voter as herein provided, or who shall be under the age of thirty years; or who shall not be the owner, for his own use and benefit, of immovable property situate within the districts of this Colony, western or eastern, as the case may be, for which he shall be elected, of the value of two thousand pounds of sterling money, over and above all special conventional mortgages affecting the same; or who shall not, being the owner of such property to such value, but under mortgage, be at the same time possessed of property movable and immovable within the said Colony to the value of not less than four thousand pounds of sterling money, over and above his just debts: Provided always, that every married man shall, for the purpose of this and every other section of the present Ordinance which regards the ownership or occupation of property, be deemed and taken to own or occupy (as the case may be) the whole of the property belonging to his wife: Provided also, that no person holding any office of profit under Her Majesty the Queen within the said Colony, and no uncertificated insolvent, and no alien who shall have been registered as a voter by virtue merely of having obtained a deed of burghership, shall be eligible to be elected a member of the said Council.
- 34-37. [Manner of nominating candidates for the Legislative Council.]
- 38. And be it enacted, That all persons whose names shall be inserted in the list of voters for any electoral division, but no other persons, shall be entitled to vote in and for such electoral division for members of the Legislative Council...