Template:Use South African English

Republic of Transkei
iRiphabliki yeTranskei
Nominal Parliamentary Democracy/Bantustan
Flag of South Africa (1928–1994).svg
1976–1994 Flag of South Africa.svg
Flag of Transkei.svg Coat of arms of Transkei.png
Flag Coat of arms
iMbumba yaManyama
Xhosa: Unity is Strength
Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
Xhosa: God Bless Africa
Location of Transkei in Southern Africa (1976-1994)
Capital Umtata (now Mthatha)
Languages Xhosa (official)
Sesotho and English translations required for laws to come into effect
Afrikaans allowed in administration and judiciary¹
Political structure Nominal Parliamentary Democracy/Bantustan
 -  1976-1987 Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima
(Nominal Parliamentary Democracy, effective One-Party-Rule)
 - 1987-1994 Bantu Holomisa
(Military Rule)
Legislature Parliament
 -  Parliament President plus National Assembly
(Immune to judicial review
 -  National Assembly Paramount Chiefs
70 District Chiefs
75 elected MPs³
 - Self-government 30 May 1963
 -  Nominal Independence 26 Oct 1976
 - Break of diplomatic ties 1978
 - Coup d'etat 1987
 - foiled Coup d'etat 1990
 -  Dissolution 27 April 1994
 -  1980[1] 43,798 km² (16,911 sq mi)
 -  1980[1] est. 2,323,650 
     Density 53.1 /km²  (137.4 /sq mi)
Currency South African Rand
1. Constitution of the Republic of Transkei 1976, Chapter 3, 16/Chapter 5, 41
2. Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 5, 24(4): "No court of law shall be competent to inquire into or to pronounce upon the validity of any Act."
3. 28 electoral divisions; number of MPs per division in proportion to number of registered voters per division; at least one MP each

The Transkei (meaning the area beyond [the river] Kei), officially the Republic of Transkei (Xhosa: iRiphabliki yeTranskei), was a Bantustan—an area set aside for members of a specific ethnicity—and nominal parliamentary democracy in the southeastern region of South Africa. Its capital was Umtata[2] (renamed Mthatha in 2004).

Transkei represented a significant precedent and historic turning point in South Africa's policy of apartheid and "separate development"; it was the first of four territories to be declared independent of South Africa. Throughout its existence, it remained an internationally unrecognised, diplomatically isolated, politically unstable de facto one-party state, which at one point broke relations with South Africa, the only country that acknowledged it as a legal entity. In 1994, it was reintegrated into its larger neighbour and became part of the Eastern Cape province.



Transkei in South Africa

Internal borders, Transkei in red

The South African government set up the area as one of the two homelands for Xhosa-speaking people, the other being Ciskei; it was given nominal autonomy in 1963. Although the first election was contested and won by the Democratic Party, whose founder Chief Victor Poto was opposed to the notion of Bantustan independence,[3] the government was formed by the Transkei National Independence Party. Of the 109 members in the regional parliament, only 45 were elected; the remaining seats held by ex officio chiefs.[4]

The entity became a nominally independent state in 1976 with its capital at Umtata (now Mthatha), although it was recognised only by South Africa and later—internally—by the other nominally independent republics within the TBVC-system. Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima became its first head of government until 1978, when he assumed the office of president, a position he held until 1987.

International reactionEdit

South African prime minister B. J. Vorster justified the declaration of Transkei as an independent republic by referring to "the right of every people to have full control over its own affairs" and wished "Transkei and its leaders God's richest blessings on the road ahead."[5]

My heritage commands me in the name of [Xhosa] nationhood to sacrifice the best of my abilities to the advancement of my own nation in its own country […].

The General Assembly rejects the declaration of "independence" of the Transkei and declares it invalid.

A press release by the African National Congress at the time rejected the Transkei's independence and condemned it as "designed to consolidate the inhuman policies of apartheid".[8] During its thirty-first session, in resolution A/RES/31/6 A, the General Assembly of the United Nations referred to Transkei's "sham independence" as "invalid," re-iterated its labeling of South Africa as a "racist régime," and called upon "all [g]overnments to deny any form of recognition to the so-called independent Transkei."[7] An article published in Time Magazine opined that though Transkei declared independence theoretically as a "free Black state", Matanzima ruled as the dictator of a one-party state. He banned local opposition parties and bought farmlands for himself and his family offered by the South African government at subsidised prices.[9]

Matanzima published Independence my Way in 1976, a book in which he argued that true liberation could only be gained through a confederation of black states; he described Transkei as a positive precedent and maintained that the liberation struggle chosen by the ANC would not be successful.[10]

The United Nations Security Council supported moves not to recognise Transkei, and in Resolution 402 (1976) condemned moves by South Africa to pressure Lesotho to recognise Transkei by closing its borders with the country.

Troubled existenceEdit

Throughout its existence, Transkei's economy remained dependent on that of its larger neighbour, with the local population being recruited as workers into South Africa's Rand mines.[11]

Because of a territorial dispute,[12] Matanzima announced on 10 April 1978 that Transkei would break all diplomatic ties with South Africa,[13] including a unilateral withdrawal from the non-aggression pact between the two governments, and ordered that all South African Defence Force members seconded to the Transkei Army should leave. This created the unique situation of a country refusing to deal with the only internationally recognised nation it was recognised by. Matanzima soon backed down in the face of Transkei's dependence on South African economic aid.

During his reign, Matanzima arrested state officials and journalists at will; in late 1979, he detained the head of the newly formed Democratic Progressive Party, Sabata Dalindyebo, king of the Thembu people and vocal opponent of apartheid, for violating the dignity and injuring the reputation of the president.[14] Dalindyebo went into exile in Zambia, a move that marked the end of official opposition politics in Transkei,[3] and in the 1981 election, the ruling Transkei National Independence Party was re-elected, gaining 100% of all open seats.[15]

In 1987, there was a coup d'état led by General Bantu Holomisa, the then-leader of the Transkei Defence Force, the homeland's officially sanctioned military units. Though both the South African government and the government of Transkei denied rumours of such a coup,[16] Holomisa became the Head of State,[17] and the Transkei was from that point onwards effectively in (often uneasy) alliance with the African National Congress and provided a relatively safe area for the ANC's activities. In 1990, Holomisa himself evaded a failed attempt to be ousted from his post, and when asked about the fate of his opponents, he claimed that they had died in the ensuing battles with TDF soldiers.[18] It was later found that those deemed responsible for the foiled coup had only suffered minor injuries, but were subsequently executed without trial.[19]


The Transkei government was a participant in the Codesa negotiations for a new South Africa. The territory was reincorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994, and the area became part of the Eastern Cape province.

Government and politicsEdit

Political Parties
in Transkei[3]
Democratic Party (DP) 1976-1979
Transkei National Independence Party (TNIP) 1976-1987
New Democratic Party (NDP) 1976-1979
Transkei People's Freedom Party (TPFP) 1976-1979
Transkei National Progressive Party (TNPP) 1978-1979
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 1979-1980

Nominally, the Republic of Transkei was a parliamentary democracy which allowed for a multi-party system. During its existence, six different parties registered to compete in elections at different points of its history.[3] Until the military coup of 1987, the TNIP remained the ruling party, while the Transkei People's Freedom Party constituted the official opposition. Because its founder, Cromwell Diko, was a former member of the ruling party, and due to its continued support of President Matanzima's policies, there is a widely held belief that it was actually initiated by Matanzima himself to give the impression of free elections when in fact there were none.[3] Other parties that existed never did gain any representation in parliament.

According to the Constitution of Transkei, parliament consisted of the president in joint session with the National Assembly and its laws and legislative decisions were immune to judicial review.[20] Seventy-five of its members were elected by popular vote from the various districts Transkei's territory was divided into. The remaining members were unelected Paramount Chiefs and ex officio chiefs whose number per district was enshrined in the constitution.[21]


With the establishment of the republic, the citizenry consisted of all those who had been holding the citizenship of the former territory of Transkei. Individuals were given no choice in this matter as the Transkeian constitution was a legally binding act; for the future, it provided citizenship regulations based on both jus sanguinis and jus soli. Citizenship by descent was given along the paternal line, regardless of a person's place of birth; in addition, any individual born within the republic's territory was eligible for citizenship, excluding those whose father held diplomatic immunity or was deemed an illegal immigrant and whose mother was a non-citizen.[22] Dual citizenship at birth was not permitted, and renunciation of one's citizenship was legally possible, but rendered the individual stateless in most cases. In effect, the regulations thus created an almost homogeneous population of Xhosa ethnicity, though exceptions existed.

Geography and demographicsEdit

Topographic map of the Transkei

Topographic map of the Transkei

The Transkei consisted of three disconnected sections with a total area covering 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi),.[23] The large main segment was bordered by the Umtamvuna River in the north and the Great Kei River in the south, with the Indian Ocean and the Drakensberg mountain range, including parts of the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho, served as the eastern and western frontiers. A further two small segments occurred as landlocked isolates within South Africa. One of these was in the north-west, along the Orange River adjoining south-western Lesotho, and the other in the uMzimkhulu area to the east, each reflecting colonially designated tribal areas where Xhosa speaking peoples predominated. A large portion of the area was mountainous and not suitable for agriculture.[24]

The majority of the population was Xhosa-speaking, and according to the Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Xhosa was the sole official language, but laws had to be translated into Sotho and English in order for them to come into effect, and Afrikaans was permissible in court proceedings and for other administrative purposes.[25] In addition, many thousands of northern Transkei residents spoke a small hybrid NguniSotho language, called Phuthi.[26]

Conflicting data exist about the number of inhabitants. According to the South African Encyclopaedia, the total population of the Transkei increased from 2,487,000 to 3,005,000 between 1960 and 1970.[27] An estimate of 1982 puts the number at about 2.3 million, with approximately 400,000 citizens residing permanently outside the territory's borders. Fewer than 10,000 individuals were of European descent, and the urbanization-rate for the entire population was around 5%.[23]

Security forcesEdit

The Transkei Defence Force (TDF) was formed in October 1976 and numbered about 2,000, including one infantry battalion and an air wing with two light transporters and two helicopters.[28] By 1993, the number of troops had risen to 4,000.[29] Initial training was provided by the SADF,[30] and despite its diplomatic isolation, the government of Transkei received advice from and collaborated with Israeli counterinsurgency experts.[31] Armscor/Krygkor was its main supplier of weaponry.

After breaking all diplomatic ties with South Africa, President Matanzima announced construction-plans for an international airport by an unnamed French consortium in order for "arms and troops from other countries" to be brought into Transkei without touching South African soil, but did not elaborate on where those resources would originate.[32]

During its last days in 1994, the Transkei Police had 4,993 police officers, operating from 61 police stations throughout the territory.[33]

With the dissolution of Transkei in 1994, the TDF and the Transkei Police were incorporated into the South African National Defence Force and the South African Police Service, respectively.

Notable personsEdit

Template:SouthAfrica state

See also Edit


  1. ^ Sally Frankental; Owen Sichone (2005-01-01). South Africa's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. ABC-CLIO. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-57607-674-3. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  2. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 1, 1(2), 
  3. ^ a b c d e South African Democracy Education Trust, ed. (2006), The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1970-1980, Pretoria: Unisa Press, p. 780, ISBN 1-86888-406-6 
  4. ^ South Africa: Historical franchise arrangements, EISA, 2002, 
  5. ^ Vorster, B. J., "Message to Transkei on the eve of Independence, July 1976", Selected Speeches, 
  6. ^ Barber, James. South Africa in the Twentieth Century. Blackwell Publishers. Oxford:1999. p186
  7. ^ a b Resolution A/RES/31/6 A, General Assembly of the United Nations, 42nd plenary meeting, 26 October 1976, 
  8. ^ Statement by the African National Congress GA/5498, 26 October 1976, 
  9. ^ "The Transkei Puppet Show", TIME Magazine, 25 October 1976,,9171,918444,00.html 
  10. ^ Matanzima, Kaiser D. (1976), Independence my Way, Pretoria: Foreign Affairs Association, ISBN 0-908397-05-4 
  11. ^ Bush, Barbara (1999), Imperialism, race, and resistance: Africa and Britain, 1919–1945, New York: Routledge, p. 147, ISBN 0-415-15973-3 
  12. ^ Wood, Geoffrey; Mills, Greg (1992), "The present and future role of the Transkei defence force in a changing South Africa", Journal of Contemporary African Studies 11 (2): 255–269, doi:10.1080/02589009208729541 
  13. ^ Burns, John F. (11 April 1978), "Transkei Breaks Diplomatic Tie, Its Only One, With South Africans", New York Times, 
  14. ^ South African Democracy Education Trust, ed. (2006), The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1970-1980, Pretoria: Unisa Press, p. 778, ISBN 1-86888-406-6 
  15. ^ Elections in Apartheid-Era Black Homelands "Bantustans", 
  16. ^ Battersby, John D. (25 September 1987), "Six Cabinet Ministers Resign in Transkei Scandal", New York Times,, retrieved 2010-05-26 
  17. ^ "General Bantubonke Harrington "Bantu" Holomisa (profile)", Who's Who in Southern Africa (,, retrieved 2009-07-12 
  18. ^ "Black Homeland reports uprising", New York Times, 23 November 1990, 
  19. ^ Thruth Body hears startling new claims on Transkei coup attempt, South African Press Association, 19 June 1996, 
  20. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 5, (4), 
  21. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Schedule 1, 
  22. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 8, 57-59, 
  23. ^ a b "Atlas of Transkei —a cartographical project in a developing country", GeoJournal 6 (6), 1982 
  24. ^ "Transkei", South African History Online,, retrieved 2009-07-10 
  25. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 3, 16, 
  26. ^ Neither South Africa nor Lesotho release official statistics on the number of speakers. Its status as a language in its own right is disputed. Ethnologue lists Phuti as a dialect of Sotho, and research on the language is scarce.
  27. ^ South African Encyclopaedia, Johannesburg: Naspers, 1972 
  28. ^ South Africa Homeland Militaries, May 1996, 
  29. ^ Former Black Homelands (Bantustans), 
  30. ^ Peled, Alon (1998), A Question of Loyalty: Military Manpower Policy in Multiethnic States, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 50f, ISBN 0-8014-3239-1 
  31. ^ Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin (1988), The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms and Why, London: Tauris, p. 141, ISBN 1-85043-069-1 
  32. ^ "Transkei will import troops, arms", The Age, 17 April 1978 
  33. ^ Policing Agencies: 1994, Prior to Amalgamation: South Africa, South African Police Service, 

Template:SA-Bantustans Template:Political history of South Africa

Coordinates: 31°00′S 29°00′E / -31, 29

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Transkei. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.