Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)


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Political structure

Mthatha (now Mthatha)

Date dissolved


43,798 km²

South African rand

Transkei httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons00

Xhosa (official)–Sesotho and English translations required for laws to come into effect–Afrikaans allowed in administration and judiciary¹

Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima(Nominal Parliamentary Democracy, effective One-Party-Rule)

President plus National Assembly(Immune to judicial review

Creation of first bantu state transkei 1962

The Transkei (/trɑːnsˈk, -ˈk, trænz-/, 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, which was renamed Mthatha in 2004.


Transkei Transkei Stamps and postal history StampWorldHistory

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 Republic of Transkei



The South African government set up the area as one of the two homelands for Xhosa-speaking people in Cape Province, 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, 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.

Transkei Eastern Cape Province and the Transkei Travel Tips The Travels

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 by the other nominally independent republics within the TBVC-system. Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima was Transkei's Prime Minister until 1979, when he assumed the office of President, a position he held until 1986.

International reaction

Transkei Transkei Wikipedia

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."

Transkei License Plates of Transkei

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". 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." 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.

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.

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 existence

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.

Because of a territorial dispute, Matanzima announced on 10 April 1978 that Transkei would break all diplomatic ties with South Africa, 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. Dalindyebo went into exile in Zambia, a move that marked the end of official opposition politics in Transkei, and in the 1981 election, the ruling Transkei National Independence Party was re-elected, gaining 100% of all open seats.

On 20 February 1986, faced with South African evidence of corruption, Matanzima was forced to retire as President. He was succeeded by his brother George. Kaiser Matanzima was still described as Transkei's effective leader for a time, but soon the two fell out and Kaiser was temporarily detained in the Transkei gaols in 1987; upon release, he was restricted to Qamata.

General Bantu Holomisa of the Transkei Defence Force forced the resignation and exile of Prime Minister George Matanzima in October 1987 and then overthrew Matanzima's successor, Prime Minister Stella Sigcau in December 1987. Holomisa became the Head of State, 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. It was later found that those deemed responsible for the foiled coup had only suffered minor injuries, but were subsequently executed without trial.


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 politics

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. 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. 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. 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.


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. 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.


The flag of Transkei is a triband. The colors are (from the top down) red ochre, white, and green.

Geography and demographics

The Transkei consisted of three disconnected sections with a total area covering 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi),. 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.

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. In addition, many thousands of northern Transkei residents spoke a small hybrid Nguni–Sotho language, called Phuthi.

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. 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%.

Security forces

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. By 1993, the number of troops had risen to 4,000. Initial training was provided by the SADF, and despite its diplomatic isolation, the government of Transkei received advice from and collaborated with Israeli counterinsurgency experts. 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.

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

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 persons

  • D. G. M. Wood-Gush FRSE expert on animal behaviour and father of "Free-range" farming born and raised in Transkei
  • Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former president of the ANC and President of South Africa 1994–1999
  • Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, Co-Deputy President of South Africa 1994–1996, Deputy President of South Africa 1996–1999, President of South Africa 1999–2008
  • Govan Archibald Mvuyelwa Mbeki, former South African politician and leader of the ANC
  • Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu, former South African anti-apartheid activist and member of the ANC
  • Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima, Transkei's first and longest serving president until 1986
  • George Mzivubu Mathanzima, Transkei's Prime Minister
  • Bantu Holomisa, Chief of Staff of the Transkei Defense Force 1985–1987, Transkei's Head of State 1987–1994, South African Member of Parliament, President of the United Democratic Movement
  • Oliver Tambo, former president of the ANC 1967-1991
  • Chris Hani, former SACP General Secretary and liberation fighter.
  • Stella Sigcau, Transkei Prime Minister and minister of public entreprises.
  • References

    Transkei Wikipedia

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