The history of Africa tells of tales of strife and the fight for power and leadership. It is an experience that has made the continent the one we know it today. In the Southern part of the continent, the people of South Africa stood up for what they believed in. Here are the presidents of South Africa that ruled the country after it was declared a republic.
South Africa has a long, rich history, and it has seen multiple heads of state after it was declared a republic. The country saw its earliest European contact in the 17th century, which was of the Dutch. Several decades after the British settlers came along and settled there, it became a colony. The country was and is still very rich in terms of resources, and it has a very strategic location as well, so it is not surprising that it was colonized.
What is the state of South Africa?
South Africa was declared a state on 31st May 1961. This was after a referendum that was racially-based and excluded black people. With the move, the docket of Office of the Governor-General was abolished, and South Africa presidents replaced it. The state SA presidents were figurative since the one who had power was the Prime Minister. The Office of the Prime Minister was formed in 1910 after the formation of the Union of South Africa, which came about after uniting four southern colonies, namely the Transvaal, Orange Free State, Cape Colony, and Natal. However, later on in 1984, the office of the Prime Minister was abolished, which inherently gave more significance to the office of the Head of State.
Who were the South African leaders?
The leaders of the country bore different titles. Before the state was made a republic, there was the Governor-General together with the Prime Minister. After the country became a republic, the first head of state got into power. Here is a list of the South African presidents:
1. Charles Robberts Swart
The first head of state of the country was the last Governor-General of the Union of South Africa. His Excellency served as the General Governor from 1959 to 1961. In 1961, he became the first ceremonial head of state and served for 6 years until he retired. He died on 16th July 1982.
2. Jozua Francois Naude
Jozua who was also referred to as Tom Naude, and served several ministerial positions in the government. He was appointed the leader of the Senate, where one of his duties was to act as a head of state in the event that the elected president was not inaugurated. In 1967, when Theophilus Ebenhaezer Dönges had a stroke and could not be inaugurated, Jozua took over for ten months after as the acting head of state.
3. Jacobus Johannes Fouché
Jacobus was born in the Boer republic on 6th June 1898. He served as a Member of Parliament and also held ministerial offices. He was elected as head of state after Dr. Donges died before taking over the office. Jacobus is the only president to have served his full term before 1994. He was in office from 1968 to 1975.
4. Johannes de Klerk
Jan de Klerk served in several positions in the government, and one of them was the leader of the Senate. This meant that he could serve as the acting head, which he did in 1975 after the retirement of Jacobus. He retired and went back to his farm, where he died on 24th January 1979.
5. Nico Diederichs
Nico Diederichs was the 3rd elected ceremonial head of state. He was an economist and also served in several ministries in the government. He took over the office in 1975; however, he was not able to serve full time after due to his illness. He then died from a heart attack in 1978. After his sudden death, Marais Viljoen, the then-Senate leader, took over for one and a half months before the next head of state was elected.
6. B. J. Vorster
B.J Voster served as the Prime Minister from 1966 to 1978 and then became the fourth elected head of the country from 1978 to 1979. He was known for staunchly adhering to Apartheid. He was involved in the Muldergate scandal, which forced him to early retirement.
7. Marais Viljoen
Marais was the last ceremonial head of the country, after which the head of the state's office became the most powerful after the position of the prime minister was abolished. He served from 4th June 1979 to 3rd September 1984. He died on 4th January 2007.
8. P. W. Botha
P.W. Botha was the last Prime minister of the country, after which he became the first executive head of state. He was in power from 1984 to 1989.
9. F. W. de Klerk
Frederik Willem de Klerk was the last head of state during the time of the apartheid rule. He ruled from 1989 to 1994 and then became the deputy from 1994 to 1996. He played a significant role in anti-apartheid movements. Though he was seen as a controversial figure, he received praise as he was seen as the figure that got rid of the apartheid rule.
10. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the black president of South Africa post-apartheid. He was elected after the first democratic election in the country. He is among the most famous freedom fighters, having been jailed for 27 years for his course, and many referred to him as Madiba, which interprets as ‘Father of the Nation’. He served from 10th May 1994 – 16th June 1999.
11. Thabo Mbeki
Thabo served in the office from 16th June 1999 to 24th September 2008. He resigned nine months before the end of his second term.
12. Kgalema Motlanthe
Kgalema served in office from 25th September 2008 to 9th May 2009 after the resignation of Thabo Mbeki. He was considered by many as an acting head of state in wait for Jacob Zuma, and he went on to become the Deputy of his successor Jacob Zuma.
13. Jacob Zuma
Zuma took over the office from 9th May 2009 to 14th February 2018. He is considered among the most controversial heads of state, and there are many allegations that were made against him. He resigned from office after a motion of no confidence.
14. Cyril Ramaphosa
He is the current President of South Africa. He previously served as the deputy from 2014 to 2018. He took over the office on 15th February 2018.
How many presidents has South Africa had?
The nation has had ten heads of state during the apartheid and then four after it.
Who are the presidents of South Africa?
The current chief of state of the country is Cyril Ramaphosa.
Who is the first South African president?
Charles Robberts Swarts
Who was South Africa's most famous president?
The late Nelson Mandela is known all over the world for his bravery and fighting for what he believed to be right. He gave up his freedom for 27 years for this belief, and in the end, he became the first Black African head of state in 1994.
It is essential to understand your history and what made the country that you live in today. The list of the presidents of South Africa should bring more enlightenment to you.