Apartheid South Africa
Separate Representation of Voters Act # 46 of 1951
 

Apartheid legislation was not enough to satisfy the minority government led by the HNP in South Africa. They were determined to break all remnants of the Cape Common Voters roll.

Ben Schoeman summed up the governments feeling when he said "We will take the Hottentots off the white mans voters roll". Despite the threats, the government was slow to take action, owing to a difference of opinion between Malan leader of the HNP and his ally Nicolaas Havenga, leader of the Afrikaner Party on whose six seats the HNP relied on for its majority in parliament. Any action action against the colored right to vote would require that parliament obey the provisions of the South African Act as set up by the Union in the early part of the century.

The constitution required that any change to its entrenched clauses be passed by a minimum two thirds majority in a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. Malan took the view that, since the enactment in 1931 of the Statute of Westminister by the British the South African Parliament was sovereign over its own affairs and could therefore decide for itself the manner in which it would legislate in terms of the entrenched clauses. Havenga disagreed and believed that parliament was bound by special legislative provisions incorporated in the entrenched clauses.

It took two years before the two parties could reach agreement. By October 1950 colored voters would be placed on a separate voters roll, they were given the right to elect four white MP's, including one senator and two members of the Provincial Council. The Bill was placed before parliament in March 1951.

Despite United Party (UP) objections that the procedure was unconstitutional, the Bill cleared both houses at separate sittings and by simple majorities. The Bill was duly signed by the Governor General in June 1951

The government's action sparked two reactions amongst colored voters: a protracted legal battle against the legislation and the creation of a new protest movement, which became allied to the national effort to mobilize for the Defiance Campaign of 1952.

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