South African republic referendum, 1960

South Africa Republic Referendum 1960.svg
A referendum on becoming a republic was held in South Africa on 5 October 1960. The Afrikaner-dominated right-wing National Party, which had come to power in 1948, was avowedly republican, and regarded the position of Queen Elizabeth II as head of state as a relic of British imperialism. The National Party government subsequently organised the referendum on whether the then Union of South Africa should become a republic. The vote, which was restricted to whites, was narrowly approved by 52.29% of the voters. The Republic of South Africa was constituted on 31 May 1961.

Despite the defeat of the two Boer Republics, the South African Republic (also known as the Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, republican sentiment remained strong in the Union of South Africa among Afrikaners. D F Malan broke with the National Party of Prime Minister J. B. M. Hertzog when it merged with the South African Party of Jan Smuts to form a Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party (or "Purified National Party") which advocated a South African republic under Afrikaner control. This had the support of the secretive Afrikaner Broederbond organisation, whose chairman, L J du Plessis declared:

National culture and national welfare cannot unfold fully if the people of South Africa do not also constitutionally sever all foreign ties. After the cultural and economic needs, the Afrikaner will have to devote his attention to the constitutional needs of our people. Added to that objective must be an entirely independent genuine, Afrikaans form of government for South Africa... a form of government which through its embodiment in our own personal head of state, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, will inspire us to irresistible unity and strength.

In 1940, Malan, along with Hertzog, founded the Herenigde Nasionale Party (or "Reunited National Party") which pledged to fight for "a free independent republic, separated from the British Crown and Empire", and "to remove, step by step, all anomalies which hamper the fullest expression of our national freedom".

That year, a Commission appointed by the Broederbond, met to draft a constitution for a republic; this included future National Party ministers, such as Hendrik Verwoerd, Albert Hertzog and Eben Dönges.

In 1942, details of a draft republican constitution were published in Afrikaans-language newspapers Die Burger and Die Transvaler, which provided for a State President, elected by white citizens known as Burgers only, who would be "only responsible to God... for his deeds in the fulfilment of his duties", aided by a Community Council with exclusively advisory powers, while Afrikaans would be the first official language, with English as a supplemental language.

This page was last edited on 9 April 2018, at 22:27.
Reference:,_1960 under CC BY-SA license.

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