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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was the fundamental law of South Africa from the first non-racial general election on 27 April 1994 until it was superseded by the final constitution on 4 February 1997.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.

History

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.

References



External links


Text of the 1993 Constitution at South African Government Information
* Category:Historical constitutions of South Africa Category:1993 in South African law Category:Provisional constitutions Category:South Africa and the Commonwealth of Nations {{SouthAfrica-gov-stub