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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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1892. Cape Franchise & Ballot Act

"In the 1880s, the Cape Colony African male enjoyed a qualified franchise, dating back to 1853 [see the CAPE CONSTITUTION of 1853]. In the Transvaal and the Orange Free State colonies, Africans had no vote, and in natal nearly all Africans were effectively excluded from the franchise. [Cecil] Rhodes was unhappy that in many Cape Constituencies, Africans could be decisive if more of them exercised this right to vote under the law as it existed. In a speech in Parliament in June 1887, in which the franchise question was debated, Rhodes made clear his view: 'The native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism, such as works in India, in our relations with the barbarism of South Africa' " (Magubane 1996: 108). Thus, the CAPE FRANCHISE & BALLOT ACT of 1892 eventually "raised the franchise qualifications [from £25 to £75] to the disadvantage of Africans, Coloured and poor whites" (Simons & Simons 1969: 50).

It was but the first of a series of laws passed during the subsequent years in order to settle the 'native question' with regard to franchise. See especially the SEPARATE REPRESENTATION OF VOTERS ACT of 1951.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.