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South African flag proposals (1993)

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
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    Procedure followed

    The current South African flag was designed by Mr Fred Brownell, then State Herald of South Africa (and SAVA Chairperson).

    A Commission on National Symbols was set up by the multi-party Negotiating Council (which was busy negotiating a interim Constitution) on 10 August 1993.  The purpose of this Commission was to recommend at least four flags and coats of arms, a seal and an anthem for the transition period following the 1994 elections.  The Commission was given until the end of October 1993 to make its recommendations to the Negotiating Council.

    The Commission met for the first time on 15 September 1993 and had approximately 5 weeks to complete its task.  Requests for public submissions were publicised in the media and letters were sent to  24 000 educational institutions encouraging them to participate in the process to select new national symbols.

    The Commission on National Symbols was divided into 3 sub-committees dealing with the issue of a national flag, coat of arms and national anthem respectively.  The guidelines for submissions for the national flag were as follows:

    • The flag should be of a unique design
    • It should promote national unity
    • It should be so simple that even a child can recognise and draw it
    • Primary colours are preferred
    • Designs to be submitted in full colour
    • A brief motivation and explanation of the design may also be included.
    It was also pointed out that the request for public participation was not a competition and that the Commission reserved the
    right to use such elements from the proposals as it deemed fit in its deliberations with the Negotiating Council.

    The State Herald, Mr FG Brownell, was the convenor of the national flag sub-committee.  Each sub-committee appointed a number of assessors to assist the Commission in identifying the dominant features and significant trends in the public submissions and to prepare a report for the Commission.

    The Assessor to the Sub-Committee on the national flag were:  Mr B Berry (SAVA Secretary/Treasurer),  Mr D de Waal (SAVA Committee Member), Mrs B Leburo,  Ms M Martin,  Mr P Matlua,  Dr Odendaal,  Mr L Seage,  Mr T Stylianides (SAVA Vice-Chairman)

    At a meeting on 14 October 1993, to evaluate the 7 000 submissions received from the public, the following guidelines for the
    evaluation of the proposed designs were to be kept in mind:

      The flag must be unique
      Flags which are similar or likely to be confused with other national or regional flags would have to be discarded, irrespective of their artistic merit
      Since the flag should promote national unity:
      all designs submitted must be evaluated to determine popular color trends;
      the trend in symbols must be evaluated and recorded;
      the position of South Africa in the African context must be borne in mind.
    From the approximately 7 000 designs received from the public, the sub-committee and its assessors drew up a short-list of 130 designs, which was then reduced to 10, after which 6 proposed designs were submitted to the Commission for inclusion in its report to the Negotiating Council.

    The recommendations made the Commission on National Symbols did not meet with much enthusiasm by either the public or the Negotiating Council.  At its meeting on 28 October 1993, the Negotiating Council announced that a number of advertising agencies and design studios would be invited to send in designs to the Council.  By 04 November, a further 35 designs were submitted by these agencies to the Council and the Heraldry Council was asked to evaluate these proposals, none of which were found to have any potential for being the future flag of the country.

    On 15 February 1994, a sub-committee consisting of Mr Roelf Meyer (then Minister of Constitutional Affairs) and Mr Cyril Ramaphosa (then ANC Secretary General) was appointed by the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) (the executive authority governing the country until the elections) to once again advise on the issue of national symbols. This sub-committee subsequently appointed a Technical Working Committee with Mr Brownell as convener. The Technical Working Committee prepared five new proposals based on the original six designs selected by the National Commission on National Symbols and the designs prepared by the design and advertising agencies.

    On 15 March 1994 (just over a month before the first democratic elections in South Africa) the sub-committee made its recommendations to the TEC.  The design finally selected was later approved by the TEC to be the interim national flag of South Africa.

    The new flag was officially hoisted for the first time on 27 April 1994, the date of the first universal adult suffrage elections in South Africa.

    Further public consultation by the Constituent Assembly (formed after the election and charged with drawing up a new Constitution for South Africa) concluded that the "interim" flag was a popular design and consequently it was adopted as the permanent national flag and described in the Constitution of South Africa (1996).

    Further details on the process (and illustrations of the proposed designs)  leading to the design of the South African flag are to be found in SAVA Newsletters 7/93, 8/94 and 9/94.
    Bruce Berry, 26 March 1999

    Short listed Proposals

    Proposal #1

    [South Africa - proposal 1993 - finalist] image by Mark Sensen, 23 April 1997

    This is one of the 6 finalists of the contest in 1993. The main colours are the "springbok" colours: green and yellow, symbolising prosperity, natural resources and sun, and the country, fertility, growth and youth. Triangles of green, red and blue stand for rain, water and the sky (red also for courage, livelihood and blood) are separated by white stripes standing for hope, reconciliation and peace.
    Source: VDCN's Info-Bulletin no. 86.
    Mark Sensen, 23 April 1997

    [the other short-listed proposed designs as shown below - Ed]

    Proposal #2

    [Second flagproposal] image by Jaume Ollé, 28 March 1999

    Proposal #3

    [Fourth flagproposal] image by Jaume Ollé, 28 March 1999

    Proposal #4

    [Fifth plagproposal] image by Jaume Ollé, 28 March 1999

    Proposal #5

    [Sixth flagproposal] image by Jaume Ollé, 28 March 1999

    Proposal #6

    [Seventh flagproposal] image by Jaume Ollé, 28 March 1999