South African history has beendominated by the interactionand conflict of several diverseethnic groups. The aboriginalKhoisan people have lived inthe region for millennia. Mostof thepopulation, however, tracetheir history to immigrationsince.
Although the Portuguese basked inthe nautical achievement ofsuccessfully navigating thecape, they showed little interest incolonization. The areas fierceweather and rocky shoreline poseda threat to their ships, and many oftheir attempts to trade with thelocal Khoikhoi ended in conflict.The Portuguese found theMozambican coast moreattractive, with appealing bays touse as way stations, forprawning, and as links to gold orein the interior.
The Boers meanwhile persevered withtheir search for land andfreedom, ultimately establishingthemselves in various BoerRepublics, e.g. the Transvaal or SouthAfrican Republic and the Orange FreeState. For a while it seemed that theserepublics would develop into stablestates, despite having thinly spreadpopulations of fiercely independentBoers, no industry, and minimalagriculture.
As the burghers, too, continued to expand into the ruggedhinterlands of the north and east, many began to take up a semi-nomadic pastoralist lifestyle, in some ways not far removed from thatof the Khoikhoi they displaced. In addition to its herds, a family mighthave a wagon, a tent, a Bible, and a few guns. As they became moresettled, they would build a mud-walled cottage, frequentlylocated, by choice, days of travel from the nearest Europeansettlement.
The early 19th century saw a time ofimmense upheaval relating to themilitary expansion of the ZuluKingdom. Sotho-speakers know thisperiod as the difaqane ("forcedmigration"); while Zulu-speakers callit the mfecane ("crushing").The full causes of the difaqaneremain in dispute, although certainfactors stand out. The rise of a unifiedZulu kingdom had particularsignificance. In the early 19thcentury, Nguni tribes in KwaZulu-Natal began to shift from a looselyorganised collection of kingdoms intoa centralised, militaristic state. ShakaZulu, son of the chief of the smallZulu clan, became the driving forcebehind this shift.
The Republic of South Africa is aunitary, parliamentary republic.The President of South Africa isboth head of state and head ofgovernment; the President iselected by the National Assembly(the lower house of the SouthAfrican Parliament) and mustenjoy the confidence of theAssembly in order to remain inoffice. South Africans also electprovincial legislatures whichgovern in respect of each of thecountrys nine provinces.
South Africa is a federalparliamentaryrepresentativedemocraticrepublic, wherein thePresident of SouthAfrica, elected byparliament, is the head ofgovernment, and of a multi-party system. Executivepower is exercised by thegovernment. Legislativepower is vested in both the
Following the 1994 elections,South Africa was governed underan interim constitution. Thisconstitution required theConstituent Assembly (CA) todraft and approve a permanentconstitution by 9 May 1996.The Government of NationalUnity (GNU) established underthe interim constitutionostensibly remained in effectuntil the 1999 national elections.
General elections are held every 5years. The first fully multi-racialdemocratic election was held in1994, the second in 1999, the third in2004, and the most recent in 2009.Until 2008, elected officials wereallowed to change politicalparty, while retaining theirseats, during set windows whichoccurred twice each electoralterm, due to controversial floorcrossing legislative amendments madein 2002. The last two floor crossingwindows were in 2005 and 2007
The post-apartheid Governmentof South Africa have maderemarkable progress inconsolidating the nationspeaceful transition todemocracy. Programs to improvethe delivery of essential socialservices to the majority of thepopulation are underway.Access to better opportunities ineducation and business isbecoming more widespread.Nevertheless, transformingSouth Africas society to removethe legacy of apartheid will be along-term process requiring thesustained commitment of theleaders and people of thenations disparate groups
Mangosuthu Buthelezi was chief minister ofhis Kwa-Zulu homeland from 1976 until 1994.In post-apartheid South Africa he has servedas President of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Hewas a Minister in Presidents Mandelacabinet. He also acted as President of thecountry when President Nelson Mandela wasout of the country.Bantubonke Holomisa, who was a general inthe homeland of Transkei from 1987, hasserved as the president of the UnitedDemocratic Movement since 1997. Today he isa Member of Parliament.General Constand Viljoen an Afrikaner whoserved as chief of the South African DefenceForce sent 1500 of his militiamen to protectLucas Mangope and to contest thetermination of Bophuthatswana as ahomeland in 1994. He founded the FreedomFront in 1994. He was also a Member ofParliament.
The new constitutions bill of rights providesextensive guarantees, including equalitybefore the law and prohibitions againstdiscrimination; the right tolife, privacy, property, and freedom andsecurity of the person; prohibition againstslavery and forced labor; and freedom ofspeech, religion, assembly, and association.The legal rights of criminal suspects also areenumerated. The constitution provides for anindependent and impartial judiciary, and, inpractice, these provisions are respected.Citizens entitlements to a safeenvironment, housing, education, and healthcare are included in the bill of rights, and areknown as secondary constitutional rights. In2003 the constitutional secondary rights wereused by the HIV/AIDS activist group theTreatment Action Campaign as a means offorcing the government to change its healthpolicy.