List of heads of state of South Africa

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This is a list of the heads of state of South Africa, from the foundation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 to the present day.

From 1910 to 1961 the head of state under the South Africa Act 1909 was the Monarch, who was the same person as the Monarch of the United Kingdom and of the other Dominions/Commonwealth realms. The Monarch was represented in South Africa by a Governor-General. South Africa became a republic under the Constitution of 1961 and the Monarch and Governor-General were replaced by a ceremonial State President. In 1984, under the Tricameral Constitution, the State President gained executive powers, becoming head of both state and government. Since 1994, under the Interim Constitution and the current Constitution, the head of state and government has been called the President.

Monarchs (1910–1961)[edit]

The succession to the throne of South Africa was the same as the succession to the British throne. During the Abdication Crisis the South African parliament passed its own act, "His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937", to ratify the abdication of Edward VIII.

Monarch
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Reign Royal House Prime Minister(s)
Reign start Reign end
1 King George V
(1865–1936)
George V of the united Kingdom.jpg 31 May 1910 20 January 1936 Windsor Botha
Smuts
Hertzog
2 King Edward VIII
(1894–1972)
King Edward VIII, when Prince of Wales - Cope 1912.jpg 20 January 1936 11 December 1936
(abdicated.)
Windsor Hertzog
3 King George VI
(1895–1952)
King George VI.jpg 11 December 1936 6 February 1952 Windsor Hertzog
Smuts
Malan
4 Queen Elizabeth II
(1926–)
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Portrait Herbert James Gunn.jpg 6 February 1952 31 May 1961 Windsor Malan
Strijdom
Verwoerd

Governor-General[edit]

The Governor-General was the representative of the monarch in South Africa and exercised most of the powers of the monarch. The Governor-General was appointed for an indefinite term, serving at the pleasure of the monarch. After the passage of the Statute of Westminster 1931 and the Status of the Union Act, 1934, the Governor-General was appointed solely on the advice of the Cabinet of South Africa without the involvement of the British government. In the event of a vacancy the Chief Justice served as Officer Administering the Government.

Status
  Denotes Chief Justice acting as Officer Administering the Government
Governor-General
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Tenure Monarch Prime Minister(s)
Took office Left office
1 The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Gladstone
(1854–1930)
Herbert John Gladstone.jpg 31 May 1910 8 September 1914 George V Botha
2 The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Buxton
(1853–1934)
Sydney Buxton, 1st Earl Buxton.jpg 8 September 1914 17 November 1920 George V Botha
Smuts
3 HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught
(1883–1938)
Prince Arthur of Connaught colour.jpg 17 November 1920 21 January 1924 George V Smuts
4 The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Athlone
(1874–1957)
Earlofathlone.jpg 21 January 1924 26 January 1931 George V Smuts
Hertzog
5 The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Clarendon
(1877–1955)
George Herbert Hyde Villiers.jpg 26 January 1931 5 April 1937 George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Hertzog
6 Sir Patrick Duncan
(1870–1943)
Patrick Duncan.jpg 5 April 1937 17 July 1943
(died in office.)
George VI Hertzog
Smuts
Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet
(1873–1960)
Nicolaas de Wet.jpg 17 July 1943 1 January 1946 George VI Smuts
7 Gideon Brand van Zyl
(1873–1956)
Gideon Brand van Zyl.jpg 1 January 1946 1 January 1951 George VI Smuts
Malan
8 Ernest George Jansen
(1881–1959)
EG Jansen 1949.jpg 1 January 1951 25 November 1959
(died in office.)
George VI
Elizabeth II
Malan
Strijdom
Verwoerd
Lucas Cornelius Steyn
(1903–1976)
No image.png 25 November 1959 11 December 1959 Elizabeth II Verwoerd
9 Charles Robberts Swart
(1894–1982)
CR Swart 1960.jpg 11 December 1959 30 April 1961
(resigned.)
Elizabeth II Verwoerd
Lucas Cornelius Steyn
(1903–1976)
No image.png 30 April 1961 31 May 1961 Elizabeth II Verwoerd

Ceremonial State President of South Africa (1961–1984)[edit]

Under the 1961 Constitution, the first constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the State President replaced the Monarch as ceremonial head of state. The State President was elected by Parliament for a seven-year term. In the event of a vacancy the President of the Senate served as Acting State President.

Status
  Denotes President of the Senate acting as State President
State President
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Tenure Elected Political affiliation
(at time of appointment)
Prime Minister(s)
Took office Left office
1 Charles Robberts Swart
(1894–1982)
CR Swart 1960.jpg 31 May 1961 1 June 1967
(resigned.)
National Party Verwoerd
Vorster
Eben Dönges
(1898–1968)
Dönges cropped.jpg Elected but did not take office because of illness National Party
Jozua François Naudé
(1889–1969)
Tom Naudé 1962.jpg 1 June 1967 10 April 1968 National Party Vorster
2 Jacobus Johannes Fouché
(1898–1980)
JJ Fouche.jpg 10 April 1968 9 April 1975 National Party Vorster
Johannes de Klerk
(1903–1979)
Jan de Klerk.jpg 9 April 1975 19 April 1975 National Party Vorster
3 Nico Diederichs
(1903–1978)
Nicolaas Diederichs.jpg 19 April 1975 21 August 1978
(died in office.)
National Party Vorster
Marais Viljoen
(1915–2007)
Marais Viljoen.jpg 21 August 1978 10 October 1978 National Party Vorster
Botha
4 B. J. Vorster
(1915–1983)
John Vorster.jpg 10 October 1978 4 June 1979
(resigned.)
National Party Botha
5 Marais Viljoen
(1915–2007)
Marais Viljoen.jpg 4 June 1979 19 June 1979 National Party Botha
19 June 1979 3 September 1984

Executive State President of South Africa (1984–1994)[edit]

Under the 1983 Constitution the State President was head of both state and government. The State President was elected by an electoral college chosen by Parliament and served until the next general election, but was eligible for re-election. In the event of a vacancy the Cabinet would nominate a member to serve as Acting State President.

Status
  Denotes Acting State President
State President
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Tenure Elected Political affiliation
(at time of appointment)
Took office Left office
6[1] P. W. Botha
(1916–2006)
PW Botha 1962.jpg 3 September 1984 14 September 1984 1987 National Party
14 September 1984 15 August 1989
(resigned.)
7 F. W. de Klerk
(1936–)
Frederik Willem de Klerk.jpg 15 August 1989 20 September 1989 1989 National Party
20 September 1989 10 May 1994

President of South Africa (1994–)[edit]

Under the Interim Constitution and the current Constitution the President is head of both state and government. The President is elected by the National Assembly and serves a term that expires at the next general election; a President may serve a maximum of two terms. In the event of a vacancy the Deputy President serves as Acting President.

  Denotes Acting President
President
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Tenure Elected Political affiliation
(at time of appointment)
Took office Left office
8 Nelson Mandela
(1918–2013)
Nelson Mandela.jpg 10 May 1994 16 June 1999 1994 African National Congress
9 Thabo Mbeki
(1942–)
SthAfrica.ThaboMbeki.01.jpg 16 June 1999 24 September 2008
(resigned.)
1999
2004
African National Congress
[2] Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri
(1937–2009)
Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri.jpg 24 September 2008[3] 25 September 2008 African National Congress
10 Kgalema Motlanthe
(1949–)
GeorgeBushKgalemaMotlanthe crop.jpg 25 September 2008 9 May 2009 2008 African National Congress
11 Jacob Zuma
(1942–)
Jacob G. Zuma - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2010.jpg 9 May 2009 2009
2014
African National Congress

Standards[edit]

Living former heads of state[edit]

There are four living former South African Heads of State:

Image Name Term/Reign Office Date of birth
Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg Elizabeth II 1952–1961 Queen of South Africa (1926-04-21) 21 April 1926 (age 91)
F. W. de Klerk 2012.jpg F. W. de Klerk 1989–1994 State President of South Africa (1936-03-18) 18 March 1936 (age 81)
SthAfrica.ThaboMbeki.01.jpg Thabo Mbeki 1999–2008 President of South Africa (1942-06-18) 18 June 1942 (age 75)
Kgalema Motlanthe, 2009 World Economic Forum on Africa-1.jpg Kgalema Motlanthe 2008–2009 President of South Africa (1949-07-19) 19 July 1949 (age 67)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chris Heunis was Acting State President from 19 January 1989 – 15 March 1989
  2. ^ Matsepe-Casaburri was Minister of Communications not Deputy President
  3. ^ Chikane, Frank (2012-04-28). "Emotional farewell as Mbeki holds last cabinet meeting". Daily Nation. Retrieved 2016-08-26.