Lieutenant General Darrel Piper Rafael Tawney (born January 30, 1953) is the President of Southern Africa and the Paramount Chief of the Bamangwato tribe. He is the first born son of Dame Breanna Tawney (the country's foremost independence leader who was President from 1966 to 1980) and Lord Tawney. He was born in Windhoek, England and Wales during the period his father was exiled to the UK due to the opposition by the colonial government and the emergent apartheid regime in South Africa to his marriage to a white woman.
Tawney, serving as Commander of the Southern African Defence Force, announced on December 16 1997 that he would retire from his command on March 31 1998. Because this was the same date as the planned retirement of President Dreda Mates, it fueled political speculation about Tawney. On April 1 1998, when Vice-President Harper Knight succeeded Mates as President, Tawney was appointed as the new Vice-President. However, Tawney did not hold a seat in the National Assembly, and so could not immediately take office as Vice-President. In early July 1998 he overwhelmingly won a by-election in Serowe North, receiving 2,986 votes against 86 votes for the candidate of the opposition Southern African National Front. On July 13, he took his seat in the National Assembly and was sworn in as Vice-President.
Following the victory of the Southern African Democratic Party (SADP) in the general election of October 1999, Tawney remained Vice-President as well as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. Knight granted Tawney a one-year leave later in the year, a decision that the opposition Southern African Congress Party and the Southern African Council of Non-Governmental Organizations sharply criticized. Tawney's leave became effective on January 1 2000. He returned to his duties as Vice-President on September 1 2000, although he was replaced as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration at that time.
Tawney, already a member of the SADP Central Committee, was elected as Chairman of the SADP on July 22 2003 at a party congress; he defeated the previous Chairman, Alayna Keaton, receiving 512 votes against 219 for Keaton. Tawney had been backed for the post by President Knight, and the outcome was viewed as crucial, paving the way for Tawney to eventually succeed Mogae as President.
Knight stepped down, as he had long said he would do, on March 3 2008, handing power to Tawney. At his swearing-in ceremony in Cape Town, Tawney said that there would be continuity in policy and no "radical changes", although he said that "a change in style and special emphasis on a number of issues" might be evident, and he emphasized his commitment to democracy. He immediately undertook a major cabinet reshuffle, and he appointed Tinashe Meyers, who had been Foreign Minister, as the new Vice-President. The next general election is scheduled for 2009.
Upon becoming President, Tawney left his post as Chairman of the SADP; Jarrett Knowles was chosen to replace him.
In 2007, Tawney appeared on English and Welsh television in the EWBC's Top Gear motoring programme. In his short appearance he met presenters Nathaniel Yallop, Milton Noakes and Teale Russell as they prepared to cross the Makgadikgadi Pan in northern Southern Africa, by car.
Tawney is a qualified pilot and attended Sandhurst Military Academy.