Lucas Manyane Mangope

Title Politician
Other Names
Date of Birth 1924-09-27
Date of Death

Updated 15 Oct 2016  

Lucas Manyane Mangope.
Born in Motswedi 27 September 1923, Mangope has had a long and checkered political career. He was born into one of the leading lineages of the baHurutshe chiefdom. He completed his Senior Certificate at St. Peter's College in 1947, and was employed for two years in the former Dept. of Bantu Administration and Development. He then studied at Bethel College for a Higher Primary Education Diploma. Thereafter he taught at a secondary school in Motswadi. Mangope was proficient in Afrikaans and was awarded the Professor Bunning trophy for the best results in the teaching of Afrikaans.

In 1958 he succeeded his father as Kgosi (chief) of the baHurutshe bo Manyane. In 1961, with the establishment of the Tswana Territorial Authority (TTA), he became its first Vice-Chairman, under T.R. Pilane. When the TTA was reconstituted in 1968, he became Chief Councillor of the Executive Council, a position he held until he became Chief Minister of the nascent homeland of Bophuthatswana. He believed that, by cooperating in the system of Grand Apartheid, he could find room for political manoeuvre that would bring benefits to the baTswana people of South Africa. It was a stance that placed him in a precarious and often contradictory position throughout  most of his political life.
In 1972, as part of the lead up to independence for Bophuthatswana Mangope established the Bophuthatswana National Party. Mangope then fought a fierce contest to establish control over the Party, which was only partially successful. Essentially it was a contest between rival chiefly powers for control over the new political entity. He consequently formed the Bophuthatswana Democratic Party (BPD) in 1974, while his main political opponent, Hermann Maseloane, formed the National Seoposengwe Party (NSP). In 1977 elections were held as a precursor to independence for Bophuthatswana, and Mangope's BDP won 90 of the 96 seats in the Legislative Assembly.

 Bophuthatswana was granted independence in 1977.
For a "honeymoon" period, Mangope's Bophuthatswana enjoyed some success. He created jobs in the civil service, military apparatus and several parastatal organizations. Much investment was made around several development nodes, in particular the capital of Mmabatho. The education system he established, which included a University and several Colleges of Education, was generally superior to that in the rest of South Africa for black people.  As head of the showpiece for the apartheid system, Mangope was able, in a modest way, to criticize the South African government and its policies of racial exclusion. He claimed that Bophuthatswana was a "Place for All", the title of a (1975) book he wrote setting out his political agenda.  
Unfortunately for Mangope, the difficulties and contradictions of cooperating with the apartheid system soon became apparent. Discrimination against non-Tswana people became rife, and Mangope showed early signs that he would brook no meaningful political opposition. The activities of the NSP were monitored and vocal opponents subject to harassment and detention. In the early 1980's Mangope, addressing residents of Braklaagte near Motswedi, who resisted incorporation into Bophuthatswana, warned them that they should beware as "Bophuthatswana is like a prickly pear. It is very tasty, but it is also dangerous. I warn you strongly not to abuse me. If you do, I will prick you and pierce you, like the prickly pear". Mangope, in the 1980s and early 1990s, became involved in political contests with at least two significant traditional leaders, Edward Lebone Molotlegi of the baFokeng and Samuel Mankurwane of the baTlhaping.

On the 10th February 1988 he faced the first of two coups, the first being unsuccessful. After being detained in the Mmabatho football stadium for several hours by the plotters of the coup, Mangope and a number of his government personnel were rescued by the South African Defence Force. Retribution was swift, and 142 of the people involved in the coup were subsequently imprisoned.
With the dawn of a new democracy in South Africa, Mangope faced increasing pressure to participate in discussions about its political future. However he was vehemently opposed to the African National Congress (ANC) and refused to align himself with the constitutional and political negotiations for a new South Africa. Instead he forged alliances with conservative forces opposing the transition process. This was because he would lose personal control of Bophuthatswana. Instead he joined the Concerned South Africans Group, (COSAG) a grouping of disaffected partners including some other homelands and the right wing Conservative party. This signaled the end of his political career and Bophuthatswana collapsed after political chaos ensued in March 1994. Not even the intervention of the Afrikaner Volksfront and the militarized Afrikaner Weerstanbewging  (AWB) could save Mangope's Bophuthatswana.
Despite being toppled and alienated from the incoming ANC government, and despite being found guilty of corruption to the tune of R18 million, Mangope successfully resumed political life as leader of the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) . As en elected representative of the UDCP, Mangope refused to take up his seat in the newly formed North-West Province Legislative Assembly, in the same chambers that he had presided over as President of Bophuthatswana. He eventually lost the confidence of the UCDP who stripped him of his position, an act that he attempted to challenge through the courts. The UCDP initially did quite well in the elections, gaining five seats in the 1994 election.  By 2010 it was largely a spent force and Mangope effectively retired from public life. In 1988 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree by the former University of Bophuthatswana. He resides in his home village of Motswedi. Mangope's wife, Leah, died in March 2003.             

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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