D. F. Malan

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Daniël François Malan
DFMalanPortret (cropped).jpg
4th Prime Minister of South Africa
In office
4 June 1948 – 30 November 1954
MonarchGeorge VI
Elizabeth II
Governor-GeneralGideon Brand van Zyl
Ernest George Jansen
Preceded byJan Smuts
Succeeded byJohannes Gerhardus Strijdom
Minister of the Interior, Education and Public Health
In office
30 June 1924 – 20 May 1933
Prime MinisterJ. B. M. Hertzog
Preceded bySir Patrick Duncan
Succeeded byJan Hofmeyr
Personal details
Born(1874-05-22)22 May 1874
Riebeek-Wes, Cape Colony
Died7 February 1959(1959-02-07) (aged 84)
Stellenbosch, Cape Province, South Africa
Political partyNational (1914–1935) (1948–59)
Purified National (1935–1939)
Herenigde Nasionale (1940–1948)
Martha van Tonder
(m. 1926; died 1930)

Maria Louw
(m. 1937)
Children2 sons
1 daughter (adopted)
Alma materUniversity of Stellenbosch
University of Utrecht
ProfessionClergyman, politician

Daniël François Malan, PC (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈdɑːni.əl franˈswɑ mɑ'lan]; 22 May 1874 – 7 February 1959) was a South African politician who served as Prime Minister of South Africa from 1948 to 1954. The National Party implemented the system of apartheid, which enforced racial segregation laws. The foundations of apartheid were firmly laid down during his tenure as Prime Minister.

Early life[edit]

Malan was born in Riebeek-West in the Cape Colony. The progenitor of the Malan name in the South African region was a French Huguenot refugee named Jacques Malan from Provence (Mérindol), France, who arrived at the Cape before 1689.[1] The Malan name is one of a number of Afrikaans names of French origin which have retained their original spelling.

Malan obtained a B.A. in Music and Science from Victoria College, Stellenbosch, whereafter he entered the Stellenbosch seminary in order to train as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. Along with his studies in theology, he obtained a M.A. in Philosophy from Victoria College, later to be the University of Stellenbosch.[1] Malan left South Africa in 1900 to study towards a Doctorate in Divinity at the University of Utrecht, which he obtained in 1905.


Dutch Reformed Church minister[edit]

Malan returned to South Africa, where he was ordained as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church and served for six months as an assistant-minister in Heidelberg, Transvaal. He was an ardent fighter for the acceptance of Afrikaans, which was an emerging language fighting against Dutch and English, and was a founding member of the Afrikaanse Taal- en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV, 'The Afrikaans Language and Cultural Society'), which was established in 1930. He was stationed in Montagu from 1906 to 1912 and thereafter in Graaff-Reinet until 1915. He also undertook a journey on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Church, visiting religious Afrikaners living in the Belgian Congo, Northern Rhodesia, and Southern Rhodesia.[2]

Political career[edit]

Malan's involvement in National Party politics began shortly after the NP's formation in 1914. In those years, political parties had affiliated newspapers that served as their mouthpiece. However, Nationalist-minded Afrikaners in the Cape had no such outlet and therefore, in 1915, decided to found De Burger, which later became known as Die Burger. They persuaded Malan to become the editor of the new newspaper and he used it as a springboard for entry into parliament.[3] As he was worried about the Afrikaners' political position in the aftermath of the 1914 Rebellion, he relinquished his position as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church to accept the position. The Cape branch of the National Party was founded in 1915 and Malan was elected as its provincial leader. In 1918, he was elected to Parliament for the first time as MP for the seat of Calvinia in the House of Assembly. He held that seat until 1938 when he became the MP for Piketberg.

When the National Party came to power for the first time in 1924 under Prime Minister J. B. M. Hertzog, Malan was given the post of Minister of the Interior, Education and Public Health, which he held until 1933. In 1925, he was at the forefront of a campaign to replace Dutch with Afrikaans in the constitution and provide South Africa with a new national flag.

After the 1933 election, the United Party was formed out of the fusion of Hertzog's National Party and the rival South African Party of Jan Smuts. Malan strongly opposed this merger and, in 1934, he and 19 other MPs defected to form the Purified National Party, which he led for the next 14 years as the opposition.

Malan opposed South African participation in World War II. South Africa's participation in the conflict was unpopular among the Afrikaner population, and in 1939 that led to a split in the governing United Party. The defectors united with the National Party, dramatically strengthening Malan's political position, and he consequently defeated Smuts and the United Party in the 1948 general election.

During Malan's tenure as Prime Minister, South Africans lost the right of appeal from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council under the terms of the Privy Council Appeals Act, 1950.

The foundations of apartheid were firmly laid during Malan's six-and-a-half years as prime minister. On 24 February 1953, Malan was granted dictatorial powers to oppose black and Indian anti-apartheid movements.[4] Malan retired in 1954 at the age of 80, but in the succession battle that accompanied his retirement, his anointed heirs, N. C. Havenga and T. E. Donges, were defeated, and Malan was succeeded by J. G. Strijdom.

Death and legacy[edit]

Malan died on 7 February 1959 at Môrewag, his home in Stellenbosch.[5] His book, Afrikaner Volkseenheid en my ervaringe op die pad daarheen ("Afrikaner nationalism and my experiences on the road to it"), was published in the same year by Nasionale Boekhandel. A collection of his writings and documents is housed in the Document Centre at the University of Stellenbosch's J.S. Gericke Library. He is positioned 81st on the SABC3's Great South Africans list.

Malania anjouanae[edit]

In 1952, J. L. B. Smith was told about a coelacanth that had just been landed by fishermen at Anjouan and recognised by an adventurer called Eric Hunt. He had persuaded them that the fish was worth a lot of money and should not be sold to anyone other than the South African government. This would be only the second specimen known to science. The first specimen identified by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer was preserved only as a skin, so Smith needed to collect this new specimen and get it refrigerated quickly so that the internal organs would not decay. His local MP, Vernon Shearer, telephoned Malan and together with Smith persuaded him to send the South African Air Force to fetch the fish and bring it back to South Africa. Because the second specimen differed from the first one in two ways: it lacked the first dorsal fin and its tail fin was truncated, Smith named the fish in honour of Malan and the place where the fish was caught, Malania anjouanae.[6] Eventually, it was established that this was not a different species, but the same as the first specimen, Latimeria chalumnae; the apparent differences were due to a shark attack that had cost the fish one of its dorsal fins and part of its tail.[6]


  1. ^ Les Français Qui Ont Fait L'Afrique Du Sud ("The French People Who Made South Africa"). Bernard Lugan. January 1996. ISBN 2-84100-086-9


  1. ^ Korf, Lindie (2008). "Behind Every Man: D.F. Malan and the Women in his Life, 1874–1959". South African Historical Journal. 60 (3): 397–421. doi:10.1080/02582470802417474. ISSN 0258-2473. S2CID 145581158.
  2. ^ sahoboss (17 February 2011). "Daniel Francois Malan". South African History Online. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Daniel Francois Malan". South African History Online. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  4. ^ Ross, Albion (28 January 1953). "Malan Seeks Dictatorial Powers in South Africa 'Emergency'". New York Times. hdl:10500/8477.
  5. ^ "D. F. Malan, S. African Racist, Dies". Hartford Courant. 8 February 1959. p. 5. Retrieved 18 February 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b Weinberg, Samantha, A Fish Caught in Time: the Search for the Coelacanth, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006, pp. 63–82.

External links[edit]

Media related to Daniel François Malan at Wikimedia Commons Quotations related to D. F. Malan at Wikiquote

Preceded by
Jan Smuts
Prime Minister of South Africa
Succeeded by
J.G. Strijdom