Coat of arms or logo
Unicameral 1840-1890
Bicameral 1890-1902
First Volksraad
Second Volksraad
Disbanded31 May 1902
Seats48 (24 First, 24 Second)
Meeting place
Ou Raadsaal Plenarsaal.jpg
Ou Raadsaal, Pretoria

The Volksraad (English: "People's Council") was the parliament of the former South African Republic (ZAR), it existed from 1840[1] to 1877,[2] and from 1881 to 1902[3] in part of what is now South Africa. The body ceased to exist after the British Empire's victory in the Second Anglo-Boer War. The Volksraad sat in session in Ou Raadsaal in Church Square, Pretoria.[4]

The Volksraad receiving President Paul Kruger at the Ou Raadsaal, circa 1890
The Volksraad receiving President Paul Kruger at the Ou Raadsaal, circa 1890

In 1840, at the beginning of the Natalia Republic, an adjunct Volksraad was created in Potchefstroom for settlers west of the Drakensberg.[1] The Potchefstroom Volksraad continued despite the British annexation of the Natalia Republic in 1843;[5] eventually passing the Thirty-three Articles, the precursor the 1858 constitution(Grondwet), in 1849.[6] In 1858 the constitution(Grondwet) permanently established the Volkraad as the supreme authority of the nation. [7]

Initially a unicameral body, the Volksraad was divided into two chambers in 1890 in order to keep Boer control over state matters while still giving Uitlanders (foreigners) — many of whom were temporarily employed in the mining industry — a say in local affairs, in order to fend off British complaints.[8]

From 1890 the Volksraad consisted of two houses of 24 members each.[9] The "Second Volksraad" had suffrage for all white males above 16 years, and had limited legislative powers in the fields of mining, road construction, copyright and certain commercial affairs, all subject to ratification by the "First Volksraad".[10] This was the highest authority in charge of state policy, with preference being given to fully franchised burghers for appointment to government posts.[11]

Volksraad was also the Afrikaans name for the House of Assembly, the principal or sole chamber of the Parliament of South Africa from 1910 to 1994.[12]


  1. ^ a b Pratt, Edwin (1900). Leading points in South African history 1486 to March 30, 1900 arranged chronologically, with date index. John Murray, Albemarle Street, London. p. 31. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  2. ^ Eybers, G. W. (1918). Select constitutional documents illustrating South African history, 1795-1910. George Routledge & Sons, Limited New York; E. P. Button & Co. p. 448-454. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  3. ^ Eybers 1917, p. 456, 345.
  4. ^ Transvaal: The Golden Province, C. van Rensburg Publications, 1992, page 34
  5. ^ Eybers 1917, p. 349.
  6. ^ Pratt 1910, p. 44.
  7. ^ Papengus, F. H. (1889). The constitution ("grondwet") of the South African Republic. London, H. MacLeay. pp. 7–12. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  8. ^ The Afrikaners: Biography of a People, Hermann Giliomee, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2003, page 238
  9. ^ Eybers 1917, p. 490.
  10. ^ The Anglo-Boer War: a Chronology, Pieter Gerhardus Cloete, J.P. van der Walt, 2000, page 13
  11. ^ Judge and be Judged, Adrienne E. Van Blerk, Juta & Company, 1988, page 113
  12. ^ World Legislatures, John Paxton, Springer, 1974, page 112