The Tricameral Parliament



The Tricameral Parliament, a three-tiered assembly that presided over the last decade of Apartheid, was inaugurated to allow for parliamentary representation for Coloureds and Indians in one of three separate chambers, a supposed reform and improvement of Apartheid-era Whites-only representation. However, this attempt to apparently broaden political representation excluded Black Africans – far from being a movement towards a more just political order, the process represented Indians and Coloureds in an inadequate and racialised manner, and was meant to dislodge the two groups from an alliance with African nationalists and other anti-Apartheid forces that were demanding authentic democracy and equal rights for all. Analysts have seen the ‘reform’ process as a move from the politics of control to a politics of co-option.

The Tricameral Parliament was a reform imposed from above, and existed for about 11 years, in a manner many characterised as farcical. It was dissolved when a new interim constitution came into effect which abolished Apartheid legislation. Although it lasted only a decade or so, it had been planned for from the 1976/7 provincial congress of the National Party (NP), and once it became a reality in 1984, it unwittingly paved the way for the dissolution of Apartheid.

• Desai, Ashwin, Arise ye Coolies: Apartheid and the Indian, 1960-1995, 1996, Impact Africa Publishing.
•  Heunis, Jan; The Inner Circle, 2007, Jonathan Ball Publishers
•   Omond, Roger. South Africa's Post-Apartheid Constitution, 1987,  Third World Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 2, After Apartheid (Apr., 1987), pp. 622-637
•  Spence, JE,  South Africa: Reform versus Reaction, 1981,  The World Today, Vol. 37, No. 12 (Dec., 1981), pp. 461-468
•  Welsh, David.  Constitutional Changes in South Africa, 1984,  Vol. 83, No. 331 (Apr., 1984), pp. 147-162
•  Welsh, David, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, 2009, Jonathan Ball Publishers

Last updated : 24-Feb-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 07-Feb-2014

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