Union of South Africa

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The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unity of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Following the First World War, the Union of South Africa was granted the administration of the German South-West Africa colony as a League of Nations mandate and it became treated in most respects as if it were another province of the Union.

The Union of South Africa was founded as a dominion of the British Empire. The Union was governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with the British monarch represented by a governor-general. The Union came to an end when the 1961 constitution was enacted. On 31 May 1961 the nation became a republic, under the name of the "Republic of South Africa".

Contents

Constitution

Main features

Unlike Canada and Australia, the Union was a unitary state, rather than a federation, with each colony's parliaments being abolished and replaced with provincial councils. A bicameral parliament was created, consisting of a House of Assembly and Senate, and its members were elected mostly by the country's white minority. During the course of the Union the franchise changed on several occasions often to suit the needs of the government of the day. Parliamentary Supremacy was entrenched and save for procedural safeguards the courts were unable to intervene in Parliament's decisions or policies.

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