White SA citizens hold referendum to decide if SA should become a republic


Date: 5 October, 1960

The South African government held a referendum in which only White citizens participated to decide whether South Africa should cut links with the British monarch and become a republic. The voting age restriction was lowered to eighteen years and included the White voters of South West Africa (now Namibia). The two former Boer republics, Transvaal and Orange Free State, and South West Africa, voted in favour, while the Cape Province, though also in favour, had a smaller majority. Natal, which was inhabited by more English-speaking Whites than Afrikaners, voted against it.

The opposition United Party actively campaigned for a 'No' vote, while the smaller Progressive Party appealed to supporters of the proposed change to 'reject the republic', arguing that South Africa's membership of the Commonwealth, with which it had privileged trade links, would be threatened. The result was 52 per cent in favour of a republic.

Further reading:

From Union to Republic (SAHO feature)


  1. South African republic referendum, 1960 from wikipedia [online] available at: en.wikipedia.org
  2. On this day, October 4th from news24 [online], available at: www.news24.com
  3. Muller, C.F.J. (ed)(1981). Five Hundred years: a history of South Africa; 3rd rev. ed., Pretoria: Academica, p. 507.