I want to have a setting where South Africa instead of ending the apartheid peacefully it splits across the racial lines. Whites form a separate state in the Western Cape or any other province as long as it has an access to ports. And expel the rest from its part.

The split could happen during the 80's or early 90's.

What factors would make such move most plausible? Maybe pressure from the West of potential military action instead of boycott during the 80's where communism was still a threat.

Province Map

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    $\begingroup$ Any split would be problematic as the mining resources would become a major point of contention. Most likely no agreement on a split of these resources could be reached if a split was on racial/tribal lines as several groups would be deprived of any significant resources. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Mar 18 '18 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ I can't see any plausible factor that could explain how to do this. Most reasonable area would be gauteng or freestate and depend on airports not seaports. So I cannot answer. Only thing I can add is that it would have to be earlier rather than later before the world got sooo much smaller. This weird hodgepodge (of english, german, portuguese, italian, dutch, afrikaaners who trekked and afrikaaners who didn't trek, religious and non religious etc) of a new country will want to be as 'established' as possible before the advent of social media and global connectedness really takes hold. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Mar 18 '18 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ Having thought abit more on this. I think each province has it's own factors that affect the overriding question of what factors would be most plausible. Even the open-ended time era affects what would be plausible or not. No mention has been made of how this relocation is implemented or the reception amongst in-country residents. Do all whites move or just the hard core zealots? I think as such this is still a high concept question and needs further refining to avoid a book being written as an answer to the question. I'm going to vtc as too broad in its current form. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Mar 19 '18 at 0:13
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    $\begingroup$ In the other southern nations of Africa, the white population was largely driven out with black rule. There are too many whites in So Africa to drive out and no-where for them to go. But they could definitely have been backed into a corner. This is not that outrageous at all, and the apartheid government was preparing for exactly this scenario. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 19 '18 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe more white people need to immigrate to create cheap white labour. Australia became pretty white as well as the US so it's not impossible. Then you need some reason why it would be split up maybe a failed war by the white to take over black areas. You could draw a line down from the top left of Limpopo directly down and make Joburg and the whole Gauteng province a contested area between white and black like Jerusalem is. $\endgroup$ – user1898829 Mar 19 '18 at 14:35

Nothing would make it feasible. South Africa is like anywhere else, they need a cheap labour force. Dividing it along racial lines would collapse the economy and lead to war very quickly.

Expelling the africans in such huge numbers into already belligerent neighbours would lead to war, starvation, and all the rest. The colour of his skin does not mean he will be welcome in another african country, plenty of genocides happen over there.

I see it on the news, I cannot see the difference between 2 tribes, but they can and there is some horrendous stuff going on sometimes.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't believe the OP meant to expel anyone into other african countries, just out of whatever province is taken over. But the tribal politics will still hold true as you say. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Mar 18 '18 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps fair enough, but the end result would still be chaos in all directions, SA has been a magnet for many different peoples, there will be conflict when the affluence, jobs and security disappear. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Mar 19 '18 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ Your answer might benefit from quotes and/or citations $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Mar 19 '18 at 7:31

Congo crisis.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Crisis#Political_legacy

The chaotic violence of the crisis and the fate of the country's whites, many of whom entered Northern and Southern Rhodesia as refugees, contributed to the widespread belief among whites there that black nationalist politicians were not ready to govern, and prompted fears that immediate majority rule in Rhodesia might lead to a similar situation.

This happened, and was already bloody and chaotic. In this timeline, it is worse. It is the divergence point.

1974: Massacre in Mozambique.


The Carnation Revolution (Portuguese: Revolução dos Cravos), also referred to as the 25th of April (Portuguese: vinte e cinco de Abril), was initially a military coup in Lisbon, Portugal, on 25 April 1974 which overthrew the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo.[1] The revolution started as a military coup organized by the Armed Forces Movement (Portuguese: Movimento das Forças Armadas, MFA) composed of military officers who opposed the regime, but the movement was soon coupled with an unanticipated and popular campaign of civil resistance. This movement would lead to the fall of the Estado Novo and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies. The name "Carnation Revolution" comes from the fact that almost no shots were fired and that when the population took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship and war in the colonies, carnations were put into the muzzles of rifles and on the uniforms of the army men by Celeste Caeiro.

In this alternate timeline, the Carnation Revolution is a bloody massacre. The Portuguese who did not escape into Rhodesia or South Africa are slaughtered in the streets.

  1. Rhodesia falls. The white government of Rhodesia falls in a similar manner. Having been forewarned by the fate of the Congolese a decade ago and then the Portuguese next door, many of the whites fled before and during the slaughter of white citizenry.

  2. Exodus. Reading the writing on the wall, white South Africans from the north of the country begin a southern movement down towards the Cape. Under pressure from the white refugee populations the South Africans begin moving black people out to make room, and also because of increasing fears of a black uprising.

  3. Uprising and chemical warfare. These actions serve to trigger the uprising. This is accompanied by a separate group of desperate black migrants moving South out of the chaos of the fallen states and opportunists seeking spoils from the destabilized northern part of South Africa. The more organized of these factions are opposed by a brutal military response by the retreating apartheid government, using Project Coast - chemical weapons designed in anticipation of this circumstance are used against black revolutionaries and also black refugees and black South Africans.

The horrors of these actions lead to the total ostracism of the Apartheid government, freezing of bank accounts, and a refusal by both Soviets and Western governments to give them aid.

1982: Samson option. In the last refuge of the Western Cape, the white government (as well as a massive white refugee population) threatens nuclear action against the encroaching groups of blacks. The Israelis give credence to this threat, having helped the South Africans design their bomb. International forces come at last, setting up a demilitarized zone walling off the white government from the rest of the country.

Alternatively, and depending on the relationship you want this country to have with the rest of the world, they could execute the Samson option.

1989: A new nation. Within the Western Cape, the dislocated population of white refugees is willing to do the work that the black population once did. Those moneyed people who stayed in Africa mostly had money elsewhere in the world and once these accounts were unfrozen, these people begin the work of building the new all-white country in the tip of Africa. The black polities now forming the remainder of what was South Africa work out their way forward, or not, much as actually did happen in Congo, Rhodesia and Mozambique.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem with your scenario is that South Africa's diamond and gold mines are in the northeast. White owners won't want to give that up. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Mar 19 '18 at 1:31
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    $\begingroup$ They're not going to keep owning the mines when a wall gets put between WSA and ESA though. $\endgroup$ – Nij Mar 19 '18 at 7:07
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    $\begingroup$ Fyi, the nuclear weapons research station would have had to be abandoned in this scenario as it is up near Gauteng in the Magaliesberg mountains. There is a mountain climbing spot nearby imaginatively called 'radioactive crags'! $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Mar 19 '18 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn: you are right they would not want to give up their mines. Neither did the white people who owned mines and other businesses in Zimbabwe or Congo or Mozambique, but had to give them up anyway. Avoiding that outcome in SA is probably at least part of why things went the way they really did. My scenario is what the white owners really wanted to avoid. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 19 '18 at 11:03

Your map is the post apartheid map of South Africa. For your scenario you should start with the map during apartheid era when all the 'homelands' were in place. The ultimate aim of Apartheid was exactly that, splitting the races and black tribes each into their own area. This, as with all social engineering schemes, was doomed to failure. 'kilisi' in his answer is correct. The South African economy was too integrated to make any split viable. Each of the 'homelands' were too small and economically poor to be successfull. The remainder of South Africa had all races working together on a daily basis but then going home to their own suburbs. The government attempted to forcibly move people to the 'correct' area but always encountered strong resistance from within and outside South Africa. Even the white minority of a few million were deeply divided politically. Only a small part of the Afrikaners would have been willing to live in a white only homeland. Some did attempt exactly that:


Your scenario has in fact happened to some extend. A fair proportion of the white population as well as smaller numbers of other races have moved from South Africa to establish 'mini' South Africas in countries like Australia. There are no accurate figures on the numbers that have left.


That was already intended in our timeline: the split parts for each racial group were called bantustans and were supposed to become sovereign states different from South Africa, which would have remained as the white part.

Here is a map of bantustans in South Africa and Namibia (credit user DrRandomFactor from Wikimedia Commons). It can be seen that boundaries don't seem fair, but they weren't intended to be fair. However, the problem of keeping diamond mines in white hands - pointed by other answers - was solved. The problem of labor needed in white cities was also addressed by allowing black (now foreign) workers commute from their bantustans. Map of Bantustans


Disclaimer: I'm not a historian. Lots of hand-waving happens to make this work. I also believe that xenophobia, racism and bigotry makes countries weaker.

The only way South Africa could have successfully split among racial lines would be if whites could get rid of the need for cheap labor, either through automation, or having more financial resources, or both.


A very large share of South Africa's GDP is from mining, especially gold and diamond mining, but the mines are largely owned by British foreign interests. Another large part is the export of food, especially corn grown in Kwazulu-Natal.

The alternate history

If the British hadn't won the second Anglo-Boer war (which was partially motivated by newly discovered mineral resources in South Africa), it's possible that the two independent states of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal (map) would have merged and kept control of the vast mineral wealth of South Africa. They would need to conquer Natal to gain access to a port. Thus forms the Boer Free Republic (BFR).

Given their long enmity with the British empire, the BFR may have allied with the German colony in German South West Africa during the first world war.

Given the established alliances, and South Africa's strong ties with Japan, and obvious ideological similarities, the BFR may have allied with the Axis powers during the Second World War.

Whether that war was won or lost, if the Boer Free Republic retained it's independence due to successes in that war, many German engineers and scientists may choose to flee to the BFR.

It's at that point where the gradual rebuilding and development of those countries after the war, and the realization that long-term dependence on black labor is untenable, that the search of a technological solution to the labor problem starts.

Utilizing the knowledge of German engineering and the Japanese automation revolution, South Africa largely automates mining, and improves agricultural automation. Through the further careful choice of less labor-intensive crops, they manage to gradually free itself of the need of black labor. They start deporting workers to the Cape.

A real-world aside

Orania had this exact problem, and developed nut-harvesting technology to obviate the need for labor intensive nut-picking. (They built machines that shake the nut trees and catch the nuts. It's pretty nuts.)

In addition, there was talk of automating mining after the recent mining strikes for higher wages. Apparently the technology to automate mining has existed for a while, but has not been the most economical option.

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    $\begingroup$ Quote: "If the British hadn't won the second Anglo-Saxon war" .... uh, I think you'll find that's that Anglo-Boer war. $\endgroup$ – Simba Mar 19 '18 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ Oops. So hard to keep track of all the Anglo wars. $\endgroup$ – Gustav Bertram Mar 19 '18 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ All of this would have to have occurred before the 1980s early 1990s time period as stipulated in the question. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Mar 19 '18 at 9:42
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    $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps I read that as the split happens in the 80s or 90s, but other influences could have lead to a situation where this was viable. If they meant that the alternate history starts in the 80s or 90s, much more drastic intervention is required. $\endgroup$ – Gustav Bertram Mar 19 '18 at 9:55

The South Africa of today has an economy that is based to a great degree on exports to neighboring countries.

That means South Africa being the "most industrialized" nation in Africa exports goods and services to countries that no longer can internally support those demands either because of war, poverty, deindustrialization or underdevelopment.

So splitting on racial lines would invite all kinds of sanctions and effectively ruin the economy the white population depends on.

It's probably why as one poster above said, the NP (National Party) was backed into a corner and had to accept democracy in 1994 to ensure its own survival effectively making it impossible for segregation to exist today or in the future.


It isn't possible to do on a large regional basis. I was curious about the diversity of South Africa at one point last year and calculated the percentage of each ethnic group in every Province. Every Province has a majority Black or Black/Coloured population. Whites are most numerous in Western Cape (Cape Town) at 15.70% and Gauteng (Johannesburg) at 19.10%. Black Africans are the majority nationwide.

The other option which already happened was Apartheid, which was of course completely evil.


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