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 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 Houses of Parliament in Cape Town.
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 are appointed by the President to head the various departments of the national government. The ministers individually, and the Cabinet collectively, are accountable to Parliament for their actions.
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
|Deputy President of South Africa
|Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
||Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
|Arts and Culture
||Arts and Culture
||Thembisa Stella Ndabeni
|Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
||Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
|Defence and Military Veterans
||Defence, Military Veterans
||Treasury, Stats SA
|Higher Education and Training
||Higher Education and Training
|International Relations and Cooperation
||Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, Marius Fransman
||International Relations and Cooperation
|Justice and Constitutional Development
||Justice and Constitutional Development
|Public Service and Administration
||Public Service and Administration, PSC, PALAMA
|Rural Development and Land Reform
||Rural Development and Land Reform
|Science and Technology
||Science and Technology
|Sport and Recreation
||Sport and Recreation
||State Security Agency
|Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission
||National Planning Commission
|Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration in the Presidency
||The Presidency, GCIS
||Marthinus van Schalkwyk
|Trade and Industry
||Thandi Tobias, Elizabeth Thabethe
||Trade and Industry
|Water and Environmental Affairs
||Water Affairs, Environmental Affairs
|Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities
||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:
- 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 of Appeal – 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 provision is made in the constitution for other courts established by or recognized in terms of an Act of Parliament.
Provincial government 
Local government 
In each parliament, the major party holding a majority forms the Government. The major party not holding a majority forms the Opposition.
External links 
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Forimmediaterelease.net (press release)
Mon, 20 May 2013 18:14:28 -0700
Ministers Carvalho Muaria of Mozambique; Minister Mduduzi Dlamini of Swaziland; and Minister Michael Mabuyakhulu, the Minister for Economic Development&Tourism of the Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Government of South Africa, moved to become proactive ...
Twin Falls Times-News
Fri, 17 May 2013 00:04:00 -0700
Focal points of the summer study, Hamilton said, include learning about the geography, history, culture, society, religion, education, economy and government of South Africa. Of course, he's also going to go on safari to see the country's incredible ...
Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Wed, 08 May 2013 11:40:44 -0700
Opposition members seized on the gaffe by calling into question the relationship between the UK government and the government of South Africa. “This looks like a serious breach of trust with one of our most important strategic partners. Justine ...
Mon, 29 Apr 2013 20:27:48 -0700
"The UK government should have informed the government of South Africa through official diplomatic channels of their intentions." In response, UK officials said they had had "months of discussions" and "many meetings" with their South African ...
Fri, 17 May 2013 11:18:42 -0700
Previously the government of South Africa became involved in the cultural procedure to prevent unnecessary deaths. New legislation is presently being drafted to include a safer procedure to follow, and a hint on banning negligent leaders. It is ...
Mon, 13 May 2013 02:11:01 -0700
My sincere hope is that if and when this elevation does finally take place, it would not be under a President given to flip-flopping, in the way demonstrated recently by the current Government of South Africa in the matter of the award of the Oliver ...
Fri, 17 May 2013 08:01:00 -0700
The legislation caters for certain exemptions that apply when interest is paid to a foreign person by certain entities, for example the Government of South Africa, the South African Reserve Bank, a headquarter company or in respect of any debt that is ...
Fri, 26 Apr 2013 12:50:33 -0700
We congratulate the people and government of South Africa led by Their Excellencies, President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Foreign Affairs and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and its ...
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