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Republic of South Africa
Old South Africa flag Old South African coat of arms
Flag Seal
Location of the RSA (SWM)
Location of South Africa
National motto: "Ex Unitate Vires"
(From Unity, Strength)
National anthem: "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"
(The Call of South Africa)
Capital
Largest city
Pretoria, Transvaal
Johannesburg, Transvaal
Official languages Afrikaans
English
Demonym South African
Government
- State President
- V. State President
- Speaker
- Chief Justice
Unitary parliamentary republic
J.D. Grobler (CP)
Leon Smit (CP)
Leadner Rhode (CP)
Charles H. Maxwell
Legislature
- White
- Colored
- Indian
- Special house
Multicameral Parliament
House of Assembly
House of Representatives
House of Delegates
President's Council
Formation 31 May 1910 (union)
31 May 1961 (republic)
Population 10,158,438
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone GMT+2
Date formats DD-MM-YYYY
Drives on Left
Internet TLD .za

The Republic of South Africa (commonly South Africa) is a country located in Southern Africa. It consists of five provinces - Transvaal (where the capital Pretoria is located), Orange Free State, Natal, Cape Province and South West Africa. To the north of South West Africa, the country is bordered by Angola and Zambia, and to the east by Botswana. To the north of Transvaal it is bordered by Zimbabwe (which South Africa does not recognize), and to the east of Transvaal it is bordered by Mozambique. There are a further twenty three states located on the borders and as enclaves in South Africa which are not recognized internationally (with some exceptions, such as Lesotho and Swaziland). They make out part of the Union of South African States, along with South Africa.

South Africa is unique in the international community for its system of racial segregation, known officially as "Apartheid" (which translates to apartness in English). Apartheid was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and Afrikaner Broederbond (Afrikaner Brotherhood). It was officially adopted in the 1948 general election, during which time South Africa was still a British dominion. Blacks have no political representation within the country, as their political affairs are considered to be within the domain of the independent enclaves of South Africa (commonly known as Bantustans or homelands). Indians and people of mixed racial origin, known as "coloreds", have minimal political representation. Although the vast majority of the world has condemned Apartheid, and is still enforcing strict sanctions on South Africa because of this, the ruling white minority has always justified it simply as "a system of good neighborliness" and "separate but equal" treatment.

The country has a unique system of a multicameral sovereign Parliament, known popularly as the Multicameral Parliament. Parliament consists of three race-based houses, namely the most powerful House of Assembly for whites, the House of Representatives for coloreds, and the House of Delegates for Indians. Furthermore, the fourth house of Parliament is the President's Council, tasked with resolving disputes between the race-based houses and acting as the liaison with the executive branch of government. The State President is the head of the executive and widely considered to be the most powerful political office in South Africa, even more so than the officially supreme Parliament. The current State President is J.D. Grobler of the now-ruling Conservative Party.

History

Union

South West Africa

In 1915, South Africa, acting on behalf of the Allied Forces, invaded and conquered German South West Africa and installed a military government. In 1920, the League of Nations granted the territory to South Africa as a mandate. After the First World War, the South African government hoped to continue its administration of the territory until a viable, popularly supported government could be set up. This request by South Africa was however denied by the United Nations in 1946, due to alleged non-involvement by the local population in the process. In 1971, after a very long, drawn out legal battle and much controversy, the International Court of Justice agreed with the UN General Assembly that South Africa's claims were illegal, and that it should remove itself from the region.

Rising Marxist and communist-influenced groups in Namibia and neighboring Angola, however, forced South Africa to refuse the General Assembly's demands. South West Africa was subsequently administered as a fifth province of the Republic. The South African Border War, an overarching term referring to two theaters of combat, began in 1966 after the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) started launching attacks on white farmers in the Ovamboland region of the province. The initial years of the conflict did not show intensive fighting, however toward the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, the war had spread to the air and started involving ever-more armored units.

The Border War, however, was not merely a conflict between the South African Defense Force and SWAPO, but also a part of the Angolan Civil War. The ruling FAPLA government of Angola had been lending its assistance to SWAPO, providing equipment and staging points across the border. In response, South Africa started providing aid to FAPLA's main rival, UNITA, in an attempt to deny SWAPO installations north of the border and to force FAPLA to abandon its support for South West African dissidents.

This, however, elevated the conflict. Cuba launched a large scale intervention in support of the ruling FAPLA, accusing South Africa of imperialism. Cuba's presence further deteriorated South Africa's eventual plans to pull out of SWA, which it never really considered to be part of its territory. South Africa, having long considered itself to be part of the Western, capitalist world, did not want communist forces on its borders which could support other dissident groups, such as the African National Congress. It demanded the Cuba withdraw from Angola, that FAPLA discontinue support for SWAPO, and that SWAPO must cease its combatant endeavors if it hoped to govern South West Africa in the future. The Border War, therefore, consisted of two theaters of combat - conventional, largely mobile warfare north of the Namibian border, allied with UNITA against FALPA; and counterinsurgency operations south of the Namibian border, against SWAPO militants who managed to cross into the country. The largest operations took place in southern Angola, as South African forces hoped to stop SWAPO guerrilla fighters from establishing staging bases.

The late 1980s, after intense fighting and the near destruction of the Angolan Army at Cuito Cuanavale, peace was rapidly approaching. The National Party government, believing that SWAPO has been sufficiently weakened and that, if general elections were to occur, SWAPO would lose, had entered into multilateral negotiations with Cuba and FAPLA. It was eventually agreed that South African forces would remove themselves from Namibia and make way for the United Nation's Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) to monitor security affairs and the upcoming Namibian elections.

However, in 1990, a short while before the general elections commenced, a SWAPO force of 500 insurgents crossed the Angolan border into South West Africa, in violation of the peace terms that SWAPO's military detachment would remain in northern Angola. The 1,500 SADF troops which remained in Namibia, were swiftly deployed despite UN objections, and promptly destroyed the insurgent force. South Africa immediately pointed the finger at FAPLA, claiming that they were responsible for keeping their SWAPO allies in line, and accused the Angolan government of attempting to install a SWAPO communist dictatorship in Namibia, on South Africa's borders.

Subsequently, the South African Defense Force reentered Namibia, and commenced with Operation Clean Border on 19 March 1990. The general elections were called off, and, fearing for the safety of their troops, UNTAG pulled out of Namibia. The South African government, from that date onward, cited that popular Namibian sentiment was to remain under South African administration. The United Nations called it an "unequivocal violation of international law, international custom and moral decency" that South Africa sought to continue its "colonialist" domination of Namibia and its people.

Operation Clean Border ended on 15 December 1992, when SWAPO was considered destroyed. Since that time, however, other, smaller and decentralized rebel groups have sprung up, especially in the Apartheid homelands established by Pretoria.

Planned transition to a democratic government

State President F.W. De Klerk, a National Party moderate, released Nelson Mandela, leader of the then-banned African National Congress, from the Robben Island Prison in 1990. Shortly thereafter, he and other reformists set in motion a transition that was intended to transform South Africa from Afrikaner minority ruled state to a democratic state with universal franchise.

Recent history

Politics

Main article: Politics of South Africa

Government

Main article: Government of South Africa

Law

The jus commune of South African law is the hybrid system of Roman-Dutch civil law (the dominant substantive contributor) and British common law (the dominant procedural contributor). Being a nation with parliamentary sovereignty, no one statute or constitution has any special status besides other pieces of legislation. The Constitution Act itself is simply a statute which sets out the structure of government. The Multicameral Parliament is the sovereign legislature and is responsible for the vast majority of legislative matters in the Republic. Provincial administrators, however, have some legislative authority and may enact ordinances which apply only in their specific provinces. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal and is chiefly responsible for adjudicating disputes and interpreting the law. There is no judicial review of original legislation in South Africa.

Separate Development (Apartheid)

Foreign relations

Main article(s): Union of South African States

Due to Pretoria's policy of Separate Development and the perceived disadvantage, marginalization and oppression it brings to black Africans and other non-white ethnic groups, South Africa generally does not have friendly relations with the international community. There is even stringent tension between South Africa and its formal allies. Several United Nations resolutions, both in the Security Council and General Assembly, have been passed and are still being applied against South Africa, ranging from mere condemnations to full embargoes and economic sanctions. The Republic's official policy toward the general international community has consistently been, however, to maintain good working relationships and avoid any unnecessary conflicts.

Pax Pretoriana is the common name given to South Africa's foreign relations doctrine with regard to its regional neighbors. South Africa strives to maintain friendly relationships with other African states, but these "friendly" relationships are often considered to be the result of Pretoria's machtpolitik. With that in mind, any possible working relationships with neighboring states are subject to certain prerequisites. States immediately bordering South Africa or its USAS allies may not provide sanctuary to or support South African dissidents and rebel groups, most notably Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military arm of the African National Congress; and may not engage in the "economic sabotage" of South Africa.

Being the dominant economic powerhouse in the region as well as Africa's strongest economy in general, South Africa has considerable sway despite its military power. Being a trade hub, much of Southern Africa's resources imported from the rest of the world flow from South Africa's harbor infrastructure, most notably to landlocked states such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Despite South Africa's nonrecognition of the current government, it has not completely embargoed Zimbabwe. Certain kinds of food imports are allowed to cross the border. Zimbabwe's more advanced imports such as military equipment and technological appliances, however, must go via the often uneconomical Mozambican railway. Botswana, being doubly removed from the nearest port to the east, is essentially fully dependent on South Africa's mercy to allow imports from Walvis Bay and Saldanha Bay. It is however not considered a puppet of South Africa, and exercises much political and economic independence.

The Union of South African States (USAS), near unanimously considered to be a baby of Pretoria's Separate Development policy, is a regional alliance of South Africa with the several "independent" homelands it has established for black ethnic groups which historically have lived within in South Africa's borders. While officially and formally independent states, all of the homelands are economically dependent on South Africa, and most are dependent on South Africa's political and military infrastructure. These states are universally considered to be puppets of Pretoria's Conservative Party government.

Military

Main article: South African Defense Force

The South African Defense Force (SADF) is by far and large the most powerful military organization on the African continent. This may be attributed to an unintended consequence of the three decade long arms embargo against South Africa, which forced the establishment of a massive domestic arms industry and an operational emphasis on preserving military equipment. Because the military also, as a general rule, only recruits white soldiers, and due to the small size of South Africa's white population, there is also strong emphasis on preserving manpower. This solidification of the SADF started when the Border War intensified in the late 1970s. Conscription is legal but currently inactive in South Africa. When enforced (in terms of the Defense Act), every white male aged 18 must spend two years in some or other military capacity. White females and colored (mixed race) males, while generally excluded, may be conscripted in a limited number of circumstances, mostly related to a grave state of emergency.

The Defense Force consists of the Army (SAR), the Air Force (SAAF), the Navy (SAN), and the Medical Service (SAMS). The military is, if not deployed, often called to support the civil police and security services, but this is done usually only as a last resort, as political leaders believe the military should not, "at any cost," become a symbol of oppression or add to the country's already volatile racial tension.

Administrative divisions

South Africa SWM administrative divisions
South Africa is divided into three tiers of government, namely national government, provincial government, and the local authorities. It should be noted that in terms of South African law, the homelands do not form part of the Republic, but are officially and formally independent national states. This state of affairs is generally not recognized by the international community.

Provincial and local government are politically accountable to the national executive government. Administrators act as the heads of government of provinces, and nominate their own Executive Councils (and collective make out "the Administration". The Administration of each province, through the Administrator, has the authority to enact and promulgate legislation, known as Ordinances, which are applicable only in their jurisdictions. Only certain matters fall within the competency of the Administration to regulate by law.

The Republic of South Africa currently consists of five provinces, namely -

  • Transvaal
  • Orange Free State
  • Natal
  • Cape
  • South West Africa

The local authorities are racially constituted. While all local authorities are accountable to the national executive, the different racial authorities are by law as passed by Parliament, responsible for the governance of their respective racial groupings. Three kinds of local authority therefore exist in South Africa, the "white" local authorities (corresponding to "own affairs" legislation passed by the House of Assembly), the "colored" local authorities (corresponding to "own affairs" legislation passed by the House of Representatives), and the "Indian" local authorities (corresponding to "own affairs" legislation passed by the House of Delegates). The majority of local authorities in general are white local authorities. The largest number of Indian local authorities are found in the Natal Province, and the largest number of colored local authorities are found in the Cape Province.

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