Parliamentary Chamber: National Assembly

Chamber: National Assembly

Dates of Elections/Renewal (From/to):

26 April 1994

29 April 1994

Purpose of Elections:

Elections were held for all the seats of the new National Assembly provided for by the Constitution of November 1993. Elections for the former tricameral Parliament had last been held on September 1989 in the area then comprising the Republic of South Africa (i.e. excluding the four “independent homelands”).

Background and Outcomes of Elections:

General elections for the former tricameral Parliament were held in September 1989. In September 1993, the legislature approved the setting up of a multiparty Transitional Executive Council to oversee the country’s move to democracy. Two months later, a Constitution under which South Africa was to be governed during the transitional period was endorsed. On 2 February 1994, the elections were called by State President F.W. de Klerk and political parties were given a specified time to register; 19 did so by the set deadline (as adapted).

The National Assembly elections were held simultaneously with those for the country’s nine provincial parliaments, which were in turn to determine the nomination of Senators. Special voting took place first (on 26 April) for the elderly, infirm, prisoners, pregnant women and citizens abroad. The polling day, monitored by thousands of foreign observers, were very peaceful in comparison with violent incidents such as bomb attacks in the preceding weeks and months. Technical problems at voting stations led to delays and the extension of polling by one day (29 April) in certain areas. Final results, announced on 6 May by the Independent Electoral Commission, gave a landslide victory to the African National Congress (ANC), headed by Mr. Nelson Mandela, which captured 252 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly, but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to effect unilateral constitutional change. The ruling National Party (NP) of Mr. de Klerk came in second with 82 seats, ahead of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) with 43 seats. The IFP, which was led by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, gained its strongest support in the province of Kwazulu-Natal.

During the campaign, according to the parties’ manifestos, the ANC had committed itself to building a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. The ANC undertook to honour workers’ rights, to eliminate rural poverty, and to prioritise education, housing and health services. The NP had characterised itself as the party of law and order, supporting a free market economy and being committed to a non-racial democracy in which minority and cultural rights would be protected. The IFP, a late starter in the election race (it finally registered on 19 April), had also advocated free enterprise as well as the eradication of corruption, exploitation and intimidation. It supported equal opportunities for all and the promotion of worthy customs and cultures.

Other challengers to these three leading groups included the Freedom Front which undertook to promote the security, freedom and peaceful co-existence of the Afrikanervolk; the Democratic Party which emphasised the supreme worth of each individual and the value of a free market economy; the Pan Africanist Congress which promised true liberation to the oppressed and exploited African people; and the African Christian Democratic Party.

On 26 April 1994, South Africa’s new flag was raised. Its new Constitution and bill of rights took effect on 27 April, and the system of “homelands” for the black population was abolished. With the policy of racial apartheid (separation) dismantled, Mr. Mandela, a prisoner for 27 years for his fight against this practice, declared that South Africa’s citizenry was “free at last”. The international observers pronounced the vote to have been “substantially free and fair”.

On 9 May, the newly chosen National Assembly elected Mr. Mandela as President of the Republic of South Africa, and he was sworn in to this post the next day. Mr. T.M. Mbeki (ANC) and Mr. F.W. de Klerk (NP) were sworn in as Executive Deputy Presidents under a provision in the Constitution entitling every party holding at least 20% of the seats to designate an Executive Deputy President from among the members of the National Assembly. On 11 May, a coalition Government of national unity was announced, ministerial membership of the Cabinet (18 ANC portfolios, six for the NP and three for the IFP) being based on the provision that each party winning at least 5% of the national vote would be entitled to one or more Cabinet portfolios, in proportion to the number of seats held by it.

On 20 May, the Senate, also controlled by the ANC after its victory in seven of the nine provinces, met for the first time. The inaugural session of the bicameral Parliament as a whole took place four days later. Meeting as a Constitutional Assembly, it is tasked with finalising the text of the Constitution.


Round no 1 (26 to 29 April 1994): Elections results 
Number of registered electors22,700,000 (approx.)
Voters19,726,610 (86.9%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers193,112
Valid votes19,533,498
Round no 1: Distribution of votes 
Political GroupVotes%
African National Congress (ANC)12,237,65562.65
National Party (NP)3,983,69024.39
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)2,058,29410.54
Freedom Front (FF)424,5552.17
Democratic Party (DP)338,4261.73
Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)243,4781.25
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)88,1040.45
Round no 1: Distribution of seats 
Political GroupTotal
African National Congress (ANC)252
National Party (NP)82
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)43
Freedom Front (FF)9
Democratic Party (DP)7
Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)5
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)2
Distribution of seats according to sex: