The Union of South Africa is a dominion of the Imperial Commonwealth Federation (former British Empire) in southern Africa. To the south It borders with the Portuguese overseas provinces of Angola and Mozambique, Bechuanaland Protectorate, British Central Africa (Rhodesia-Nyasaland) and Kingdom of Swaziland. The Territory of Basutoland is an enclave.
It consists of the provinces of Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River, Transvaal and South-West Africa. The last one, a former colony of Imperial Germany, given to South Africa in 1920 by the Treaty of Versailles.
Government of South Africa
By the South Africa Act 1909 and the Statue of Westminster (1924) that establishes the dominion status, the government is organized has follows:
- A Governor-General of South Africa appointed to represent the British Monarch, who is also the Monarch of South Africa.
- Executive power is vested in the Monarch/Governor-General and is exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are responsible before the Parliament.
- Legislative power is vested in a Parliament consisting of the Monarch, a Senate and a House of Assembly. Most of the Senators are chosen by an electoral college consisting of Members of each of the five Provincial Councils and Members of the House of Assembly. The remaining Senators are appointed by the Governor General of the Union on the advice of the Prime Minister. Members of the House of Assembly are elected on a first-past-the-post basis from single-member constituencies.
- a Supreme Court of South Africa, which serves as a unified court system for the Union and consists of local, provincial, and appellate divisions. It is seated at Bloemfontein. In the Act there is no provision for judicial review.
Voting rights and citizenship
The Act protects pre-existing voting rights for black Africans in the Cape province (which are limited to wealthier, educated blacks and coloureds), but permits the Parliament of South Africa to prescribe all other voting qualifications. However, Parliament as the power to change the Cape's voting requirements by a two-thirds vote.
The natives (black Africans) have their rights restricted in land purchase, residence and travel, labor market and political rights. The Native Land Act (1913) which prevents all blacks, except those in the Cape, from buying land outside "reserves", the Natives in Urban Areas Bill (1918) designed to force blacks into "locations", the Urban Areas Act (1923) which introduced residential segregation and provided cheap labor for industry led by white people, the Colour Bar Act (1926), preventing anyone black from practicing skilled trades, the Native Administration Act (1927) that made the British Crown, rather than paramount chiefs, the supreme head over all African affairs.
The main political issue of South Africa politics is the assimilation or segregation of black Africans.
The main issues in South African politics are apartheid, Afrikaner nationalism, and British imperialism (pro Commonwealth), The main parties, and with parliamentary representation are:
- The National Party (Afrikaans: Nasionale Party). Its policies included apartheid (grand apartheid), the establishment of a republic, and the promotion of Afrikaner culture.
- The United South African Party, formed by a merger of the South African Party and Unionist Party. Its a moderate conservative and liberal representative of Anglo South Africans, pro British Commonwealth and Coloured people's rights. Although, it historically established petty apartheid.
- The South African Labour Party, is professedly democratic socialist party representing the interests of the white working class.
- South-West Alliance (Südwesbund), an electoral alliance of white and black parties and groups of South-West Africa.
- The African National Congress (ANC) is the direct response to injustice against black South Africans at the hands of the government and its goal is the end of any form of apartheid and establishment of majority rule.
Also important are the
- South African Indian Congress (SAIC), founded with the aim to fight discrimination against Indians in South Africa. Allied with the ANC.
- South African Communist Party (SACP), opposed racialism from its inception and mass struggle for majority rule and worker's struggle and liberation.. It adopted the Native Republic thesis which stipulated that South Africa was a country belonging to the Natives, that is, the Blacks. Thereby its task are organizing black workers and "Africanizing" the party.
South Africa is organized in 5 provinces. The provinces were the former four British colonies that united in 1900 to form the Union of South Africa and former German South-West Africa awarded by the Treaty of Versailles .
Each of the 5 provinces (4 between 1909-1920) is administered by an Administrator, appointed by the central government, and an elected legislature in the form of a Provincial Council; four members of the Council joined with the Administrator to form a five-member executive committee that acts as the Province's Cabinet.
The 5 provinces are:
- Cape Province (Capital Capetown)
- Transvaal Province (Pretoria)
- Natal Province (Pietermaritzburg)
- Orange Free State Province (Bloemfontein), and
- West Africa (Windhoek)
The Territory of Walvis Bay and Penguin Islands was annexed to South-West Africa in 1922.
South Africa has a large agricultural sector and is a net exporter of farming products (maize, sugar, grapes, citrus, nectarines, wine and deciduous fruit). Mining is the other important sector. Its most important products are diamonds, gold, coal and chrome. Also important quantities of iron, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculite.
There exists a Customs Union Agreement (SACU) between the Union of South Africa, British Central Africa and the High Commission Territories of Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Swaziland. The Import Duties Act of 1927 made the SACU its regional counterpart within the ICF, giving special provisions and exceptions to South African industries and mineral ores.
SA in the 1930s adopted import substitution industrialization (ISI) policies, backed by a common external tariffs on non-SACU products. These measures created an important industrial sector and regional market for South African manufactures. However it relegates the British High Commission Territories to producing primary commodities, provide workforce and markets for SA industrial goods.
Armed Forces and Police
The Union Defence Force (UDF, founded in 1912) is in charge of the defense. During World War I it invaded German South-West Africa and provided manpower and resources (South African Overseas Expeditionary Force) to the European war theater and was engaged in the campaign against the German and Askari forces in German East Africa.
The services of the UDF are:
- South African Army
- South African Air Force
- South African Navy
The British Royal Navy (RN), by an agreement, owns the naval base of Simon's Town and has unlimited access to the ports of Cape Town and Durban.
The South African Police (SAP) is the country's police force.