During the apartheid period, Lebowa was the homeland of the North Sotho people. It became a semi-independent national state in 1972. The territory was fragmented into six separate areas scattered throughout the northern Transvaal. Seshego and Lebowakgomo, the capital, were the main growth points. The Chief Minister during most of the 1980s was Dr C N M Phatudi. In 1994, it was reincorporated into South Africa and it became part of the Limpopo Province. It comprised two major and several minor exclaves (detached portions). Lebowa was designated by the South African government as the national territory for the northern Sotho people (Pedi, Lovedu, Kanga-Kone, and others). A territorial assembly, established in 1962, was replaced by a legislative assembly in 1971. The following year Lebowa was granted self-government. Political parties became defined soon after the first election, held in 1973. The Lebowa People’s Party, under Chief Minister C.N. Phatudi, controlled the legislative assembly, while the Lebowa National Party, led by M.M. Matlala, constituted the opposition. By 1978, Lebowa was the actual residence of more than half of South Africa’s northern Sotho people, all of whom were legally Lebowa citizens. Under the South African constitution that abolished the apartheid system, Lebowa was reincorporated into South Africa in 1994 as part of the newly created Northern (now Limpopo) province.
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