History of elections in South Africa

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The South African general elections: 1924

The 1924 general elections

The two main parties, Creswell’s Labour Party and Hertzog’s National Party (NP) entered into a coalition and formed the Pact Government. The Pact Government represented the two main groups: the White unionist miners of Labour Party headed by Colonel F.H. P. Creswell and the Afrikaner farmers who resented Smuts’ support of industrialists who were taking cheap Native [Black] labour away from farms. The election was held on 17 June 1924, and the Pact Government won, defeating Smuts South African Party (SAP).  The SAP won 53 seats, the NP won 63 seats, the Labour Party won 18 seats, and the Independents won one seat in the 134-seat House of Assembly. The 1924 elections brought Hertzog into power as Prime Minister.

After coming to power, the Pact Government introduced the civilised labour policy, and legislation which advanced the interests of White farmers and workers in the public sector. The civilised labour policy was a policy aimed at replacing Black workers with poor White Afrikaners.o:p/o:p

 The policy was enforced in government jobs and in the mining industry through legislations such as Industrial Conciliation Act No 11 of 1924, Minimum Wage Act No. 27 of 1925, Mines and Works Amendment Act No. 25 of 1926. The civilised policy was seen as a method of maintaining support among poor Whites and was a major step towards the creation of the policy of segregation, Apartheid, 30 years later. 

Protective tariffs were introduced for local industry, the agricultural sector received subsidies from government, and the state-owned company, South African Iron and Steel Corporation (ISCOR) was formed through the Steel Industry Act, No. 11 of 1928.

The Pact Government moved towards Afrikaner nationalism and Afrikaans was adopted as an official language of the Union with Act No. 8 of 1925, a new national flag was introduced and the National and Flag Act No.40 of 1927 was enacted. The system of racial segregation became dominant.

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References:
• Johnson, S. (1988). South Africa: No turning back. Macmillan.
• Tirykian, E.A. (1960). Apartheid and politics in South Africa. The Journal of Politics, Vol. 22, No 4, pp.682-697.
• Stultz, N. M. (1974). Afrikaner politics in South Africa, 1934-1948. University of California press. Berkely/ Los Angeles/ London.
• Roger B. Beck. (2000). The history of South Africa. Greenwood press, Cape Town, South Africa. 

Last updated : 27-Feb-2014

This article was produced for South African History Online on 24-Feb-2014