Government of South Africa

The Republic of South Africa, a constitutional democracy with a three-tier system of government and an independent judiciary, operating under a Westminster-styled parliamentary system. South Africa's government differs greatly from those of other Commonwealth nations. The national, provincial and local levels of government all have legislative and executive authority in their own spheres, and are defined in the South African Constitution as "distinctive, interdependent and interrelated".

Operating at both national and provincial levels are advisory bodies drawn from South Africa's traditional leaders. It is a stated intention in the Constitution that the country be run on a system of co-operative governance.

The government is undertaken by three inter-connected arms of government:
*Legislature: The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces
*Executive: The President, who is both Head of State and Head of Government
*Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the High Court

All bodies of the South African government are subject to the rule of the Constitution, which is the supreme law in South Africa.

National government


"Main article: Parliament of South Africa"

The legislature makes the laws, and supervises the activities of the other two arms with a view to changing the laws when appropriate. The bicameral Parliament of South Africa consists of the National Assembly (400 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a system of proportional representation to serve five-year terms) and the National Council of Provinces (90 seats, 10 members elected by each of the nine provincial legislatures for five-year terms). The National Assembly is elected using a Proportional Representation system with regional multi member constituencies (MMCs) and one national MMC. Parties put up closed lists for either both parts of the system or for the regional MMCs only. Half of the members of the National Assembly are chosen from nationwide party lists, the other from party lists for each province.

Following the implementation of the new constitution on 3 February 1997 the National Council of Provinces replaced the former Senate of South Africa with essentially no change in membership and party affiliations, although the new institution's responsibilities have been changed; with the body now having special powers to protect regional interests, including the safeguarding of cultural and linguistic traditions among ethnic minorities. In ordinary legislation, the two chambers have coordinate powers, but all proposals for appropriating revenue or imposing taxes must be introduced in the National Assembly.

Under the prevailing Westminster system, the leader of the political party or coalition of parties that wins a majority of the seats in the National Assembly is named President. The President and the Ministers are responsible to the Parliament, of which they must be elected members. General elections are held at least once every five years. The voter has one vote only for the National Assembly. The last general election was in April 2004.

National executive

The President, Deputy President, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Ministers make up the executive branch of the South African state. Ministers are Members of Parliament who hold a ministerial warrant to perform certain functions of government.


* Agriculture and Land Affairs
* Arts and Culture
* Communications
* Correctional Services
* Defence
* Education
* Environmental Affairs and Tourism
* Finance
* Foreign Affairs
* Health
* Home Affairs
* Housing
* Intelligence Services
* Justice and Constitutional Development
* Labour
* Minerals and Energy
* Provincial and Local Government
* Public Enterprises
* Public Service and Administration
* Public Works
* Safety and Security
* Science and Technology
* Social Development
* Sport and Recreation
* The Presidency
* Trade and Industry
* Transport
* Water Affairs and Forestry


"Main article: Judiciary of South Africa"

The third arm of the central government is an independent judiciary. The Judiciary interprets the laws, using as a basis the laws as enacted and explanatory statements made in the Legislature during the enactment. The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law and accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations. The constitution's bill of rights provides for due process including the right to a fair, public trial within a reasonable time of being charged and the right to appeal to a higher court. To achieve this, there are three major tiers of courts:

* Magistrates Courts - The court where civil cases involving less than R100 000, and cases involving minor crimes, are heard.
* High Courts - The court of appeal for cases from the magistrates courts, as well as the court where major civil and criminal cases are first heard.
* Supreme Court - The final court of appeal for matters not pertaining to the constitution.
* Constitutional Court - The final court of appeal for matters related to the constitution

In addition, there are Magistrates Courts, and provision is made in the constitution for other courts established by or recognised in terms of an Act of Parliament.

Provincial government

:"Main article: Provinces of South Africa"

Local government

:"Main article: Municipalities of South Africa


In each parliament, the major party holding a majority forms the Government. The major party "not" holding a majority forms the Opposition.

External links

* [ South African Government Online]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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