South Africa State Government

By | March 24, 2021

Parliament in Cape Town - meeting room

Parliament in Cape Town – meeting room

Form of government, constitution and separation of powers

As a major country in African continent according to getzipcodes, South Africa is a presidential democracy with federal elements. The 1996 adopted, widely discussed in the population and valid since February 4, 1997 Constitution for the first time guarantees everyone equal rights, besides civil and political rights but also economic and social human rights. It includes gender equality and far-reaching women’s rights as well as the right to health, education and housing. The constitutional right to water is unique.

A public protector (ombudsman) should ensure compliance with the lawful conduct of politicians and administrative employees and investigate violations. The experienced lawyer Thuli Madonsela held this office until October 14, 2016. The successor is the controversial Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The Commission on Gender Equality has been entrusted with the task of promoting gender equality since 1997. It works with government agencies and partners in civil society.

According to the constitution, the President of the Republic of South Africa is both head of state and head of government. He is elected every five years by the National Assembly and represented by a Vice-President. He is endowed with far-reaching powers and powers, but these are restricted by a system of “checks and balances”. The ministers are appointed and dismissed by the president as members of the cabinet. The current President of South Africa is Cyril Ramaphosa.

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma was President of South Africa from May 9, 2009 in two legislative terms until February 14, 2018; his deputy was the previous interim president Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe until the beginning of May 2014. Cyril Ramaphosa, today’s President of South Africa, then acted as Vice President. After the general election on May 7, 2014, in which the ANC was confirmed as the ruling party, and after the presidential election on May 21, 2014, former President Jacob Zuma took up his second term. His speech on the nation on February 12, 2015 caused turmoil in parliament. A senior opposition politician, Mmusi Maimane from the Democratic Alliance, underlined the democratic foundations of South Africa a few days later. In December 2015, the surprising dismissal of the then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and the controversial renewed appointment of this post caused political controversy and reactions in the financial world. These continued in 2016 and 2017 under different conditions within the ruling party, in parliament and in public. Ex-President Zuma had already repeatedly attacked the recognized finance minister Pravin Gordhan and finally dismissed him in 2014. After Zuma’s resignation and a cabinet reshuffle under President Cyril Ramaphosa in February 2018, Nene became finance minister again, and in October 2018 he resigned due to contacts with the politically influential industrialist Gupta family. Pravin Godhan was appointed Minister for Public Enterprises by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February 2018.

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President of South Africa on February 15, 2018 and sworn in as such. The lawyer was previously Vice President of South Africa, politician and entrepreneur. During apartheid, the regime critic worked as general secretary of the National Union of Mine Workers, before that as legal advisor for the then trade union confederation CUSA. During his studies he was active in student organizations. He has been arrested several times. On February 16, 2018, he gave his first speech on the nation as the new President of South Africa. At the end of February 2018 he gave new appointments to the cabinet known, among others in the Ministry of Finance, Public Enterprises, Mineral Resources, Planning and Evaluation, Cooperatives and Traditional Affairs. After the national elections on May 8, 2019, he was re-elected as President by the National Assembly on May 22, 2019. In his speech on the nation on June 22, 2019, he presented key points of his government policy and plans.

The respective homepages provide information about the cabinet, the individual ministries and ministers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minister for International Relations and Cooperation) held Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for many years from May 2009. She was followed by Lindiwe Sisulu in 2018. Since May 2019, Dr. Naledi Pandor Minister for International Relations and Cooperation.

The Parliament consists of a two-chamber system: The National Assembly (National Assembly – NA) with 400 seats and the National Council of Provinces (National Council of Provinces – NCOP) with 90 seats. The National Assembly is elected using proportional representation.

In 1995 the Parliamentary Monitoring Group was founded as a joint initiative of Black Sash, the South African Human Rights Committee and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) to report to the public on the work of the more than 40 parliamentary bodies. With reference to the reports of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, the People’s Assembly website provides information on the national parliament, individual ministries and decision-making bodies at provincial level and their budgets; The citizen-oriented information offer includes clear graphics. The aim is the connection between elected parliamentarians and citizens.

The National Provincial Council has 10 representatives from each of the nine provinces, each with one vote. He has the right to initiate legislation and the right to object to such NA bills that affect the affairs of the provinces. A mediation committee is provided for in the event of a conflict.

The legislative period in both chambers lasts five years. In both chambers, laws are usually passed with a simple majority. If this is missing in one of the chambers, a joint majority of the votes of both chambers is required. The South African government provides information on the principles and details of the legislative process.

A study by women scientists from the universities of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch provides information on the political representation and political participation of women in South Africa 25 after the first democratic elections.

Formal state structure and regional structure

According to the provisions of the transitional constitution of 1994, the country was reorganized into nine provinces. The former four provinces of Cape Province, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal were dissolved and replaced by new provinces that encompass the entire national territory of South Africa. To this day, this represents a major challenge for the government at the national level and in the respective provinces, since the former, pseudo-independent homelands with their socio-economic problems caused by the apartheid regime had to be integrated.

At the local level, too, a local political reform was introduced in three phases, the main theme of which was not decentralization, but integration in order to counteract the segmentation from the apartheid era. In the great community reform of 2000, many well-known South African cities were united with their surrounding communities and townships and some of these newly formed metropolitan communities were renamed. The division of tasks and coordination between administrative units at local and national level as well as in the provinces is often a challenge for those responsible.

To promote the political participation of women at community level, the non-governmental organization Gender Links offers detailed training materials, and it also analyzes gender policy at local level in a regional comparison.