The failure of the Coloured Persons' Representative Council and its constitutional repercussions, 1956-1985

by Saks, D.Y.

Abstract (Summary)
The thesis starts by providing a brief overview of South African "Coloured" politics from the passing of Ordinance 50 in 1828 the removal of the Cape Coloured people from the common voter's roll in 1956. It then goes on to discuss in detail the structures instituted by successive Nationalist Governments to serve as an alternative to parliamentary representation for the coloured people, the role of the various coloured political parties within such structures and the latter's gradual adaptation and development, culminating in the inauguration of the Tricameral Parliament in early 1985.

The thesis is, on the one hand, a detailed record of coloured political activity following the loss of common roll voting rights in the Cape, focusing on specifically coloured political parties rather than on broader, non-ethnic resistance movements in which many coloured people took part during the same period. This covers the rise and rapid decline of a conservative grouping within the coloured community which sought to foster an exclusively coloured nationalism operating within the Government's policy of parallel development, and attempted to use the Coloured Persons' Representative Council as a means towards achieving the economic, social and political upliftment of the coloured people. It also deals with the important role of the Labour Party after 1966, showing how a moderate resistance movement came to use the Council as a platform from which to confront the Government's apartheid policies and to render the institutions of parallel development unworkable through non-cooperation and boycotting.

The second important preoccupation of the thesis concerns the ambiguous and often contradictory attitudes towards the "coloured question" within the National Party itself. This ambivalence, it is argued, not only had much to do with the eventual failure of the Coloured Persons' Representative Council to become a viable substitute for Parliamentary representation acceptable to the majority of coloured people, but was also a primary cause of the National Party split in 1982. It shows too how the collapse of Grand Apartheid had its origins in the failure to incorporate the coloured population within its framework.

The thesis is concerned primarily with coloured political developments. When relevant, however, the establishment and development of representative institutions for the Indian people is also dealt with, in so far as this overlaps with issues and events concerning the coloured Council. Finally, the five year period following the dissolution of the Coloured Persons' Representative Council in 1980 and the inauguration of the Tricameral Parliament in 1985 is briefly dealt with in a concluding chapter. This mainly concerns the gradual accommodation reached between the Government and the Labour Party when the latter eventually agreed, conditionally, to take part in the new constitution.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1992

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