Archeology testifies to the settlement of southern Africa since the Paleolithic. In the beginning. 1st millennium AD throughout South Africa lived the peoples of the Koikoin race – Bushmen and Hottentots. In the 1st millennium AD. Bantu tribes invaded from the north. Waves of migration flows followed one after another, and by the 17th century. the ancestors of the current Sutho and Nguni language families already lived in southern Africa. Since 1652, the colonization of the country by Europeans began. The Dutch East India Company founded a settlement on the Cape of Good Hope, which eventually turned into Cape Town. Gradually expanding the boundaries of the colony, called the Cape, the Dutch seized the lands of the Hottentots, creating slave farms. Already in the 18th century. the Dutch, mixed with emigrants from other European countries, began to call themselves Boers, and in the 20th century. – Afrikaners. Check cancermatters for political system of South Africa.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Cape Colony passed into the hands of the British. The British authorities continued their colonial expansion. The threat of European invasion stimulated the unification of small tribes in the territories adjacent to the Cape Colony. The most powerful of them was the Zulu state, created in 1816 by the leader Chaka.
In the 1830s relations between the authorities of the Cape Colony and the Boers became more complicated. In 1834, a law was passed abolishing slavery, which supported the economy of the Boers. They began to gather in armed groups and leave the colony, seizing the land of African tribes. The Zulu put up especially strong resistance, but in 1838 they were defeated, and the Boer Republic of Natal was founded on part of the Zulu territory. Great Britain feared that the Boers would reach the Indian Ocean and in 1843 annexed Natal. The Boers, who had settled north of the Cape Colony, found themselves outside British power. In the 1850s they created two republics – the Orange Free State and the South African Republic of the Transvaal. Having recognized the Boer states, Great Britain directed its efforts towards the subjugation of the African peoples. To con. 19th century the entire territory of present-day South Africa was under the rule of the British crown, and the Boer republics were surrounded on all sides by English possessions. Their independence was ended during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.
In 1910 Great Britain united the Cape Colony and Natal with the former Boer republics into the Union of South Africa (SA), which was granted dominion rights. Public life in the dominion was based on the principles of racism. Africans were deprived of political and social rights. In 1912 they created an organization that soon became known as the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC). He set as his goal the struggle against racial discrimination, for the equality of the indigenous population.
In World War I, South Africa took the side of Great Britain and after its completion received a League of Nations mandate to govern German South-West Africa (Namibia). The period between the two world wars is characterized by legislation that increased social discrimination against non-whites.
In the 2nd World War, South Africa participated on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition. The changes that took place in the world after the war did not affect the domestic policy of the ruling circles of South Africa. In 1948, the National Party came to power, proclaiming racism the official ideology of the state, which became known as apartheid. The ultimate goal of apartheid was proclaimed the territorial division of the population of South Africa into racial groups, in which the white minority would have 87% of the entire territory of the country, and only 13% for Africans. Coloreds and Indians were assigned reservations inside the “white” South Africa. In implementing the doctrine of apartheid, the authorities methodically pursued a policy aimed at increasing the oppression of the non-white population. A pass system was introduced to control the movement of Africans. The non-white population waged an active struggle against apartheid, organizing strikes, demonstrations, civil disobedience campaigns, burning of passes, etc. In 1955, the ANC and progressive organizations of the colored Indian and white population convened the Congress of Nations, which adopted the Freedom Charter, a program of struggle for a democratic South Africa.
The authorities brutally suppressed the protest movement. In 1950 the Communist Party was banned, and in 1960 the ANC and other organizations objectionable to the regime. ANC leader Nelson Mandela and several of his associates were sentenced to life imprisonment. Deprived of the possibilities of legal forms of resistance, the ANC and the revived Communist Party went underground, and from 1961 they began an armed struggle, creating the militant organization Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). In the same year, South Africa left the British Commonwealth and declared itself a Republic (South Africa). The tense situation in the country caused an African uprising in June 1976 in Soweto, a suburb of Johannesburg, which spread to other cities. A state of emergency was introduced, but the unrest continued for almost a whole year.
After the events in Soweto, Western countries imposed the first serious sanctions against South Africa. Internal and external pressure caused a government crisis, and the government embarked on cautious reforms – segregation was abolished in transport, in sports, and the activities of African trade unions were legalized. At the same time, law enforcement agencies gained more power. A new constitution was adopted that made South Africa a presidential republic and provided for a tricameral parliament for whites, coloreds and Indians. Africans, as before, were excluded from parliamentary elections. Demonstrations, supported by strikes, began against the new Constitution. The usual slogans were: “Down with apartheid!” and “Free Nelson Mandela!”
In March 1985, the police shot down a peaceful demonstration. This caused a general strike, which grew into a new uprising of Africans, which covered almost all the cities of South Africa. Despite the repressions (about 25 thousand people were imprisoned), the government was unable to cope with the unrest until the end. 1986.
The crisis of the apartheid regime became apparent to many white South Africans. In July 1987, the first meeting of the most prominent businessmen and liberal politicians of South Africa with representatives of the ANC took place in Dakar, at which the possibility of a political solution to South African problems was discussed. Despite opposition from the government, such contacts continued. In 1989, F. de Klerk became president of South Africa, who entered into official negotiations with the ANC on the future state structure of South Africa, in which all political parties were later involved. In 1990, Mandela was released after a 27-year sentence, and in 1992 the ban on the activities of the ANC and other organizations was lifted.
December 20, 1991 opened a multi-party constitutional conference. The search for a compromise ended with the signing in July 1993 of a draft provisional Constitution for a five-year transitional period, and the government of national unity, formed from representatives of the main parties that had entered parliament, was to govern the country. Within five years, a permanent constitution had to be drafted.
The draft provisional constitution was approved by the South African Parliament. In April 1994, the first general elections were held, in which the ANC received 65% of the vote, the National Party – 20% and the Inkata Freedom Party – 10%. At a meeting of parliament, Mandela was elected president of South Africa, who formed the Government of National Unity (GNU) from representatives of the three main parties, but soon the National Party left the government. In 1997, the new Constitution of South Africa came into effect, preserving the democratic principles of the interim Constitution.
The GNU developed a socio-economic program that provided for an increase in economic growth and improvement in the situation of the poorest strata. It achieved stable economic growth of 2-3% per year (in the last years of apartheid, growth was almost zero), but some goals of the program turned out to be unrealistic (mass construction of cheap housing, lowering unemployment).
Despite this, the ANC again won the 1999 parliamentary elections, receiving 266 out of 400 seats. The new leader of the ANC, Thabo Mbeki, became the president of South Africa (Mande-la refused to run for a second presidential term). He continues the course of the previous government, although reality forces him to make some adjustments. He expanded the social and political base of his government to include representatives of all racial and ethnic groups, as well as those political parties that had previously been rivals of the ANC. Particular attention is paid to the fight against poverty and reforms in the direction of economic liberalization.