Despite the existence of a second and third generation of urban-born blacks, many of whom had adopted Western ways and forsaken tribal customs, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970 made every black South African, irrespective of actual residence, a citizen of one of the homelands, effectively excluding blacks from the South African political system.
Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, who became prime minister in 1958, would refine apartheid policy further into a system he referred to as “separate development.” The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 created 10 Bantu homelands known as Bantustans. Separating black South Africans from each other enabled the government to claim there was no black majority, and reduced the possibility that blacks would unify into one nationalist organization. Every black South African was designated as a citizen as one of the Bantustans, a system that supposedly gave them full political rights, but effectively removed them from the nation’s political body.
South Africa's political party system underwent radical transformation in the early 1990s when previously illegal parties were unbanned and participated in the April 1994 elections. In what international observers called a "developing multiparty system," parties were challenged to become all-inclusive and not to limit their appeal to their traditional constituent groups. They also had to reorient themselves to participate in the bicameral multiracial legislature rather than the previous tricameral apartheid-based parliament. The most successful of the parties in the April 1994 elections (and the South African Communist Party) are described below, in order of decreasing parliamentary strength.