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The Republic of South Africa is a constitutional democracy with a federally-structured, three-tier system of government and an independent judiciary, operating in a nearly unique system that combines aspects of parliamentary and presidential systems. Legislative authority is held by the Parliament of South Africa. Executive authority is vested in the President of South Africa who is head of state and head of government, and his or her Cabinet. The president is elected from 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.
The bicameral Parliament of South Africa makes up the legislative branch of the national government. It consists of the National Assembly, the lower house, and the National Council of Provinces, the upper house. The National Assembly consists of 400 members elected by popular vote using a system of party-list proportional representation. Half of the members are elected from parties' provincial lists and the other half from national lists.
Following the implementation of the new constitution on 3 February 1997 the National Council of Provinces replaced the former Senate 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 last general election was held on 22 April 2009.
The President, Deputy President and the Ministers make up the executive branch of the national government. Ministers are Members of Parliament who hold a ministerial warrant to perform certain functions of government.
Each minister is responsible for one or more departments, and some ministers have a deputy minister to whom they delegate some responsibility. The portfolios, incumbent ministers and deputies, and departments are shown in the following table.
|President of South Africa||Jacob Zuma||-||-|
|Deputy President of South Africa||Kgalema Motlanthe||-||-|
|Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries||Tina Joemat-Peterson||Pieter Mulder||Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries|
|Arts and Culture||Paul Mashatile||Joe Phaahla||Arts and Culture|
|Basic Education||Angie Motshekga||Enver Surty||Basic Education|
|Communications||Dina Pule||Thembisa Stella Ndabeni||Communications|
|Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs||Richard Baloyi||Yunus Carrim||Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs|
|Correctional Services||S'bu Ndebele||Ngoako Ramathlodi||Correctional Services|
|Defence and Military Veterans||Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula||Thabang Makwetla||Defence, Military Veterans|
|Economic Development||Ebrahim Patel||Hlengiwe Mkhize||Economic Development|
|Energy||Dipuo Peters||Barbara Thompson||Energy|
|Finance||Pravin Gordhan||Nhlanhla Nene||Treasury, Stats SA|
|Health||Aaron Motsoaledi||Gwen Ramokgopa||Health|
|Higher Education and Training||Blade Nzimande||Mduduzi Manana||Higher Education and Training|
|Home Affairs||Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma||Fatima Chohan||Home Affairs|
|Human Settlements||Tokyo Sexwale||Zou Kota||Human Settlements|
|International Relations and Cooperation||Maite Nkoana-Mashabane||Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, Marius Fransman||International Relations and Cooperation|
|Justice and Constitutional Development||Jeff Radebe||Andries Nel||Justice and Constitutional Development|
|Mineral Resources||Susan Shabangu||Godfrey Oliphant||Mineral Resources|
|Police||Nathi Mthethwa||Makhotso Sotyu||Police, ICD|
|Public Enterprises||Malusi Gigaba||Gratitude Magwanishe||Public Enterprises|
|Public Service and Administration||Lindiwe Sisulu||Ayanda Dlodlo||Public Service and Administration, PSC, PALAMA|
|Public Works||Thembelani Nxesi||Jeremy Cronin||Public Works|
|Rural Development and Land Reform||Gugile Nkwinti||Lechesa Tsenoli||Rural Development and Land Reform|
|Science and Technology||Naledi Pandor||Derek Hanekom||Science and Technology|
|Social Development||Bathabile Dlamini||Maria Ntuli||Social Development|
|Sport and Recreation||Fikile Mbalula||Gert Oosthuizen||Sport and Recreation|
|State Security||Siyabonga Cwele||State Security Agency|
|Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission||Trevor Manuel||National Planning Commission|
|Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration in the Presidency||Collins Chabane||Obed Bapela||The Presidency, GCIS|
|Tourism||Marthinus van Schalkwyk||Thozile Xasa||Tourism|
|Trade and Industry||Rob Davies||Thandi Tobias, Elizabeth Thabethe||Trade and Industry|
|Transport||Ben Martins||Sindiswe Chikunga||Transport|
|Water and Environmental Affairs||Edna Molewa||Rejoice Mabhudafhasi||Water Affairs, Environmental Affairs|
|Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities||Lulu Xingwana||Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu||Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities|
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 of being charged and the right to appeal to a higher court. To achieve this, there are four major tiers of courts:
In addition provision is made in the constitution for other courts established by or recognised in terms of an Act of Parliament.
In each parliament, the major party holding a majority forms the Government. The major party not holding a majority forms the Opposition.