Monday, April 16, 2012

This Day in Southern African History: Paul Kruger is elected president

Date: 16 April, 1883

After the abolition of the triumvirate, consisting of Vice-President Paul Kruger, Commander-General Piet Joubert and W.M. Pretorius, Kruger was elected president of the Transvaal State (the new name of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek after the signing of the Pretoria Convention on 3 August 1881) for the first time. He won the election against Joubert with 3 471 votes to 1 171. Kruger was sworn in on 9 May 1883 as state president and announced a policy based on Christian principles.

The election took place after a prolonged liberation struggle waged by the Boer republic against the British in the 19th century. The struggle can be traced back to 12 April 1877, when Theophilus Shepstone, despite Boer protests, hoisted the Union Jack on Church Square in Pretoria and annexed the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR or Transvaal Republic) as a British colony.

In 1880 the Boers launched a war of independence which was known as the First Anglo-Boer War or First South African War. On 27 February 1881, they gained a convincing victory over the British at the Battle of Majuba Hill and the republic regained its partial independence soon afterwards as the Transvaal State. Kruger was re-elected for three more five year terms.

Kruger, D.W. (ed) (1972). Dictionary of South African Biography, Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council, v. 1, p. 449.
Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v.10, p. 610.
Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.

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