Our Constitution

Building a Future Together

The South African Constitutional Negotiations

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The establishment of the Constitution in South Africa was conducted through a series of negotiations between 1990 and 1993 and through unilateral steps by the De Klerk administration. These negotiations took place between the governing National Party, the African National Congress, and a wide variety of other political organisations.

For the Rights of All

The South African Constitution

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The Constitution of 1961 was the fundamental law of South Africa for two decades. Under the terms of the Constitution South Africa left the Commonwealth and became a republic. Legally, the Union of South Africa, which had existed since 1910, came to an end and was re-established as the “Republic of South Africa”. Read the 1961 Constitutional Act.

The Constitution of 1983 (formally the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, 1983) was South Africa’s third constitution. It replaced the republican constitution that had been adopted when South Africa became a republic in 1961 and was in force for ten years before it was superseded by the Interim Constitution on 27 April 1994, which in turn led to the current Constitution of South Africa, which has been in force since 1997. Read the 1983 Constitutional Act.

The Interim Constitution was the fundamental law of South Africa from the first non-racial general election on 27 April 1994 until it was superseded by the final constitution on 4 February 1997. As a transitional constitution it required the newly elected Parliament to also serve as a constituent assembly to adopt a final constitution. It made provision for a major restructuring of government as a consequence of the abolition of apartheid. It also introduced an entrenched bill of rights against which legislation and government action could be tested, and created the Constitutional Court with broad powers of judicial review. Read the 1993 Constitutional Act.

The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law of the Republic of South Africa. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the republic, it sets out the rights and duties of its citizens, and defines the structure of the Government. Read the 1996 Constitution of South Africa.

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