The Interim Constitution was the fundamental law
of South Africa
from the first non-racial general election
on 27 April 1994 until it was superseded by the final constitution
on 4 February 1997. As a transitional constitution
it required the newly elected Parliament to also serve as a constituent assembly
to adopt a final constitution. It made provision for a major restructuring of government as a consequence of the abolition of apartheid
. It also introduced an entrenched bill of rights
against which legislation and government action could be tested, and created the Constitutional Court
with broad powers of judicial review
An integral part of the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa
was the creation of a new, non-discriminatory constitution for the country. One of the major disputed issues was the process by which such a constitution would be adopted. The African National Congress
(ANC) insisted that it should be drawn up by a democratically elected constituent assembly
, while the governing National Party
(NP) feared that the rights of minorities would not be protected in such a process, and proposed instead that the constitution be negotiated by consensus between the parties and then put to a referendum
Formal negotiations began in December 1991 at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa
(CODESA). The parties agreed on a process, whereby a negotiated transitional constitution would provide for an elected constitutional assembly to draw up a permanent constitution.
The CODESA negotiations broke down, however, after the second plenary session in May 1992. One of the major points of dispute was the size of the supermajority
that would be required for the assembly to adopt the constitution: the NP wanted a 75 per cent requirement,
which would effectively have given it a veto.
In April 1993, the parties returned to negotiations, in what was known as the Multi-Party Negotiating Process (MPNP). A committee of the MPNP proposed the development of a collection of "constitutional principles" with which the final constitution would have to comply, so that basic freedoms would be ensured and minority rights protected, without overly limiting the role of the elected constitutional assembly.
Adopting this idea, the parties to the MPNP drew up the Interim Constitution, which was formally enacted by the apartheid tricameral Parliament
and came into force on 27 April 1994.
Text of the 1993 Constitution at South African Government Information
Category:Historical constitutions of South Africa
Category:1993 in South African law
Category:South Africa and the Commonwealth of Nations