Everyone is familiar with South Africa. A country as if painted and with a diversity of animal species that is second to none. Also rich in diamonds and other precious stones. But what very few people know is that South Africa has three capitals. South Africa? Three capitals? But which ones and why?
When you hear South Africa, you immediately think of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Oh yes, Pretoria is still there. And the many animals, the impressive landscape and last but not least the gem deposits and the large mines. What few people know is that two of the above cities are capitals of South Africa. The third capital is Bloemfontein. These three cities form the political heart of South Africa. The government is distributed there.
Why the tripartite division?
To answer this question accurately, you have to go back to 1910. At that time, the country was divided. This was done by the British on one side and the Dutch on the other. Four provinces were founded. The British named their two provinces Cape and Natal. The Dutch provinces were given the names Oranje – Free State and Transvaal – Province. Both the British and the Dutch could not agree on a common capital. This is how the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu acted and the separation of powers was carried out. At that moment, South Africa was spreading its balance of power across the country. Pretoria became the executive capital, while Cape Town is the seat of the legislature. Bloemfontein is the capital of the judiciary. This is also stipulated in the new constitution of 1997 and is legally valid. This constitution was passed in 1996 and countersigned by none other than Nelson Mandela.
Pretoria Capital of Executive
The government is headquartered there. Pretoria is part of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality established in 2000. This administrative capital, made up of 13 cities, is located in the province of Gauteng. The President and Vice President reside in the Union Buildings. Almost all ministries are located there. You can also find all embassies in Pretoria. About 3,000,000 people live around the capital, 750,000 of them in the city itself. The distance to the second capital, Johannesburg, is just over 50km. The two cities are getting closer and closer together due to population density.
Cape Town Capital of the legislature
Cape Town is located in the Western Cape Province. Parliament is based in the Mother City. South Africa's parliament decides on laws for the country in Cape Town. South Africa's affairs are divided into two houses, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The members of the National Assembly are appointed by the voters, while the National Council is appointed by the provinces. Both bodies are elected for five-year terms. Around 3.7 million people live in Cape Town in an area of 2455 square kilometers. It is the second largest city in South Africa after Johannesburg. Cape Town is named after the Cape of Good Hope because of its geographic location and proximity to the Cape. Cape Town is also often called Mother City. This is because Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. As early as 1662, the Dutchman Jan van Riebeek set up a supply station there. Merchant ships on their way to India supplied themselves with provisions there.
Bloemfontein capital of the judiciary
This beautiful city is home to South Africa's Supreme Court. But that doesn't mean that everything happens in this dish. Most negotiations are contested in the local communities. The constitution of South Africa guarantees every citizen a fair hearing, which is also conducted in public. This includes the right to an appeal. Bloemfontein has a population of just 256,000, making it the smallest of the three capitals. However, it is the sixth largest city and also the capital of the Dutch province of Free State. It was founded in 1850 and got its name from the roses, which can be found in abundance in Bloemfontein. Bloemfontein comes from the Dutch and is formed from the words flower and spring.
Three capitals for one country? South Africa shows how this can be done. The largest city, Johannesburg, is irrelevant. Only the administrative court is located there. The tripartite division of powers dates back to 1910, when the British and Dutch could not agree on which city should become the capital.