Government of South Africa

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The Republic of South Africa is a parliamentary republic with three-tier system of government and an independent judiciary, operating in a parliamentary system. Legislative authority is held by the Parliament of South Africa.[1]

Executive authority is vested in the President of South Africa who is head of state and head of government[2], and his Cabinet.

The President is elected by the Parliament to serve a fixed term.

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 ("spheres") 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 national government is composed of three inter-connected branches:

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

Legislative[edit]

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town.

The Parliament of the Republic of South Africa is South Africa's legislature; under the present Constitution of South Africa, the bicameral Parliament comprises a National Assembly and a National Council of Provinces.[3][4] The current twenty-seventh Parliament was first convened on 22 May 2019.

From 1910 to 1994, members of Parliament were elected chiefly by the South African white minority. The first elections with universal suffrage were held in 1994.

Executive[edit]

The Union Buildings, the seat of the national executive
South African national government budget for 2019/20.

The President, Deputy President and the Ministers make up the executive branch of the national government. Ministers are Members of Parliament who are appointed by the President to head the various departments of the national government. The president is elected by parliament from its members.

Judicial[edit]

The third branch of the national government is an independent judiciary. The judicial branch 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.

Provincial government[edit]

The nine provinces of South Africa are governed by provincial governments which form the second layer of government, between the national government and the municipalities. The provincial governments are established, and their structure defined, by Chapter Six of the Constitution of South Africa.

The provincial governments are structured according to a parliamentary system in which the executive is dependent on and accountable to the legislature. In each province the provincial legislature is directly elected by proportional representation, and the legislature in turn elects one of its members as Premier to head the executive. The Premier appoints an Executive Council (a cabinet), consisting of members of the legislature, to administer the various departments of the provincial administration.

The powers of the provincial governments are circumscribed by the national constitution, which limits them to certain listed "functional areas". In some areas the provincial governments' powers are concurrent with those of the national government, while in other areas the provincial governments have exclusive powers. The constitution prescribes a principle of "co-operative government" whereby the various layers of government must co-ordinate their actions and legislation; it also lays down a series of rules for resolving conflicts between national and provincial legislation.

Local government[edit]

Local government in South Africa consists of municipalities of various types. The largest metropolitan areas are governed by metropolitan municipalities, while the rest of the country[5] is divided into district municipalities, each of which consists of several local municipalities. After the municipal election of 18 May 2011 there were eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and 226 local municipalities.[6]

Municipalities are governed by municipal councils which are elected every five years. The councils of metropolitan and local municipalities are elected by a system of mixed-member proportional representation, while the councils of district municipalities are partly elected by proportional representation and partly appointed by the councils of the constituent local municipalities.[7][8]

Opposition[edit]

In each legislative body, the party or coalition of parties holding a majority of seats forms the government. The largest party not in the government is recognised as the official opposition.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Olaposi, Inioluwa (6 December 2021). "Section 43 Constitution of South Africa 1996". LAWhub NG. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  2. ^ Olaposi, Inioluwa (6 December 2021). "Section 83 Constitution of South Africa 1996". LAWhub NG. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  3. ^ Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, s. 42 Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Odeyemi, Temitayo Isaac; Abioro, Tunde (4 August 2018), "Digital Technologies, Online Engagement and Parliament-Citizen Relations in Nigeria and South Africa", Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development, Springer International Publishing, pp. 217–232, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-93509-6_12, ISBN 9783319935089
  5. ^ With the exception of the Prince Edward Islands, although they are for certain legal purposes deemed to fall within the City of Cape Town.
  6. ^ "Municipal elections: fact file". Media Club South Africa. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  7. ^ Olaposi, Inioluwa (6 December 2021). "Section 151-164 Constitution of South Africa 1996". LAWhub NG. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  8. ^ "Understanding Local Government". Community Organisers Toolbox. Education and Training Unit. Retrieved 24 May 2012.

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