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The State President of the Republic of South Africa ( af, Staatspresident) was the head of state of
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 59 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital cities: e ...
from 1961 to 1994. The office was established when the country became a republic in 1961, and Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI a ...

Elizabeth II
ceased to be monarch of South Africa. The position of
Governor-General of South Africa The Governor-General of the Union of South Africa ( af, Goewerneur-generaal van Unie van die Suid-Afrika, nl, Gouverneur-generaal van de Unie van Zuid-Afrika) was the highest state official in the Union of South Africa between 31 May 1910 and 31 ...
was accordingly abolished. From 1961 to 1984, the post was largely ceremonial. After constitutional reforms enacted in 1983 and taking effect in 1984, the State President became an executive post, and its holder was both head of state and head of government. The office was abolished in 1994, with the end of
Apartheid Apartheid (South African English: ; , segregation; lit. "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid wa ...
and the transition to democratic majority rule. Since then, the head of state and head of government is known simply as the
President of South Africa The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of South Africa. The President directs the executive branch of the government and is the commander-in-chief of the South African Nationa ...
.


Ceremonial post

Republicanism had long been a plank in the platform of the ruling National Party. However, it was not until 1960, 12 years after it took power, that it was able to hold a referendum on the issue. A narrow majority—52 percent— of the minority white electorate voted in favour of abolishing the monarchy and declaring South Africa a republic. The Republic of South Africa was proclaimed on 31 May 1961.
Charles Robberts Swart Charles Robberts Swart (5 December 1894 – 16 July 1982), nicknamed ''Blackie'' was a South African politician who served as the last Governor-General of the Union of South Africa from 1959 to 1961 and the first State President of the Republic ...
, the last Governor-General, was sworn in as the first State President. The title 'State President' was originally used for the head of state of the
Boer Republics 500px, Boer Republics and Griqua states in Southern Africa, 19th century The Boer Republics (sometimes also referred to as Boer states) were independent, self-governing republics formed (especially in the last half of the nineteenth century) by Dut ...
, and like them, the holder of the office wore a
sash A sash is a large and usually colorful ribbon or band of material worn around the body, draping from one shoulder to the opposing hip, or else running around the waist. The sash around the waist may be worn in daily attire, but the sash from shou ...
with the Republic's
coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which in its whole consists of: shield, supporters, c ...
. He was elected to a seven-year term by the
Parliament of South Africa The Parliament of South Africa is South Africa's legislature; under the present Constitution of South Africa, the bicameral Parliament comprises a National Assembly and a National Council of Provinces. The current twenty-seventh Parliament was f ...
, and was not eligible for re-election. The National Party decided against having an executive presidency, instead adopting a minimalist approach as a conciliatory gesture to English-speaking whites who were opposed to a republic. As such, the State President performed mostly ceremonial duties, and was bound by convention to act on the advice of the
Prime Minister#REDIRECT Prime minister#REDIRECT Prime minister {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
and the cabinet. In practice, the post of State President was a
sinecure A sinecure ( or ; from Latin ''sine'' 'without' and ''cura'' 'care') is an office, carrying a salary or otherwise generating income, that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. The term originated in the mediev ...
for retired National Party ministers, as the Governor-General's post had been since 1948. Consequently, all State Presidents from 1961 to 1984 were white, Afrikaner, male, and over 60.


Executive post

Following constitutional reforms, in 1984, the office of State President became an executive post, as in the United States. The Prime Minister's post was abolished, and its powers were ''de facto'' merged with those of the State President. He was elected by an electoral college of 88 members—50 Whites, 25 Coloureds, and 13 Indians–from among the members of the
Tricameral Parliament The Tricameral Parliament, officially the Parliament of the Republic, was the legislature of South Africa between 1984 to 1994, established by the South African Constitution of 1983, which gave a limited political voice to the country's Colour ...
. The members of the electoral college were elected by the respective racial groups of the Tricameral Parliament—the white House of Assembly, Coloured House of Representatives and Indian House of Delegates. He held office for the Parliament's duration—in practice, five years. The last Prime Minister, P. W. Botha, was elected as the first executive State President. The State President was vested with sweeping executive powers—in most respects, even greater than those of comparative offices like the
President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Ar ...
. He had sole jurisdiction over matters of "national" concern, such as foreign policy and race relations. He was chairman of the President's Council, which resolved disputes between the three chambers regarding "general affairs" legislation. This body consisted of 60 members – 20 members appointed by the House of Assembly, 10 by the House of Representatives, five by the House of Delegates and 25 directly by the State President. Although the reforms were billed as a power-sharing arrangement, the composition of the electoral college and President's Council made it all but impossible for the white chamber to be outvoted on any substantive matter. Thus, the real power remained in white hands—and in practice, in the hands of the National Party, which had a large majority in the white chamber. As Botha was leader of the National Party, the system placed nearly all governing power in his hands. Botha resigned in 1989 and was succeeded by
F. W. de Klerk Frederik Willem de Klerk (, ; born 18 March 1936) is a South African retired politician, who served as State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. As South Africa's last head of state from the er ...
, who oversaw the transition to majority rule in 1994.


End of white minority rule

Under South Africa's first non-racial constitution, adopted in 1994, the head of state (and of government) is known simply as the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
. However, since the declaration of the republic in 1961, most non-South African sources had referred to the State President as simply the "President".South Africa: A War Won
''
TIME Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence event ...
'', June 9, 1961
John Vorster, former South African Prime Minister, Dies At 67
''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won 130 Pulitzer Prizes (the most of any newspaper), and has long be ...
'', 11 September 1983 The leader of the
African National Congress The African National Congress (ANC) is the Republic of South Africa's governing political party. It has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa since the election of Nelson Mandela in the 1994 election, winning every election si ...
,
Nelson Mandela Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; ; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's firs ...

Nelson Mandela
, was sworn in as President on 10 May 1994.


List of state presidents of South Africa

;Parties


Living former heads of state

There is one living former South African State President: File:F. W. de Klerk 2012.jpg,
F. W. de Klerk Frederik Willem de Klerk (, ; born 18 March 1936) is a South African retired politician, who served as State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. As South Africa's last head of state from the er ...

(1989–1994)


See also

*
State President of the South African Republic This is a list of State Presidents of the South African Republic (Before 1866 nl, President van de Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek and after 1866 nl, Staatspresident der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek). The country was referred as the ''Transvaal Repu ...
*
State President of the Orange Free State This is a list of State Presidents of the Orange Free State. List Last election See also *State President of the South African Republic External links Archontology.org: Orange Free State: Heads of State: 1854–1902 {{DEFAULTSORT:State P ...
*
Governor-General of the Union of South Africa The Governor-General of the Union of South Africa ( af, Goewerneur-generaal van Unie van die Suid-Afrika, nl, Gouverneur-generaal van de Unie van Zuid-Afrika) was the highest state official in the Union of South Africa between 31 May 1910 and 31 ...
*
President of South Africa The President of the Republic of South Africa is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of South Africa. The President directs the executive branch of the government and is the commander-in-chief of the South African Nationa ...
*
Prime Minister of South Africa The prime minister of South Africa ( af, Eerste Minister van Suid-Afrika) was the head of government in South Africa between 1910 and 1984. History of the office The position of Prime Minister was established in 1910, when the Union of South A ...
*
Vice State President of South Africa The Vice State President of South Africa ( af, Vise-Staatspresident) was a position established between 1981 and 1984. Alwyn Schlebusch was the only holder of the position. The position was created under constitutional reforms in 1981, which abolish ...


References


External links


List of Presidents

Lists of Heads of state with links to bios
{{DEFAULTSORT:State President Of South Africa Politics of South Africa Lists of political office-holders in South Africa Apartheid government 1961 establishments in South Africa 1994 disestablishments in South Africa fr:Présidents d'Afrique du Sud id:Presiden Afrika Selatan ja:南アフリカの大統領 pl:Prezydenci Republiki Południowej Afryki pt:Presidente de Estado da África do Sul