Dutch Reformed Church Minister, editor, National Party leader and First Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, 1948 - 1953
D.F. Malan was born in 1874 in Riebeeck West in the Cape. He completed his doctorate of divinity at the University of Utrecht in 1905 and was ordained as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. His strong Afrikaner nationalism led him into the arena of politics, and when J.B.M. Hertzog broke his ties with Prime Minister Louis Botha to form the National Party, Malan was one of his first supporters.
In 1915 the newspaper ‘Die Burger’ was founded and Malan became its first editor, using it as a springboard for entry into parliament. He was appointed Minister of the Interior in the Hertzog government of 1924. Malan strongly opposed moves to form a coalition between the National Party and Jan Smut’s South African Party in 1933, and rejected the resulting ‘fusion’ government formed in 1934. He was also a leader in the creation of the ‘Purified’ National Party, which initially consisted of the few Afrikaner parliamentarians who refused to follow Hertzog or Smuts. Ten years later this new National Party had gained enough strength to defeat the Union Party in the 1948 elections.
As Prime Minister Malan put many principles into effect, which had led to Hertzog’s break with Botha 35 years earlier. Notably those that had espoused institutionalised apartheid, or separate development. Malan was dour and unbending and retired from office in 1954 after achieving nearly all of the objectives that had originally drawn him away from the ministry and into national politics. He died in Stellenbosch in 1959.
• D F Malan [online] Availabe at: stellenboschwriters.com [Accessed 21 October 2009]