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Government of South Africa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flag of South Africa.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Africa

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. 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 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.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • A Brief History of South Africa, with Dave Steward
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  • Africa: Zulu Empire III - Diamonds in South Africa - Extra History

Transcription

One of the things that's very important to understand about South Africa is that it is like so many other African countries an artificial entity created by the Brits. The South Africa that we know in its present borders is only 104 years old. And in 1990 when we went through our transition it was only 80 years old. It was the creation of the British Empire. Britain acquired possession of most of the territories of Southern Africa in the nineteenth century in what one historian referred to as a fit of absentmindedness. At the beginning of the century it found itself in possession with a rag bag of territories which were difficult to manage and very expensive. The whole of the nineteenth century had been about the British conquest of Southern Africa. First of the Xhosa people in nine wars of the axe that finally led to in 1856 to a national suicide by the Xhosa people where they decided that they would kill their cattle and destroy their crops on the advice of a prophetess who said that if they did this the British would be driven into the sea. But of course they weren't. And tens of thousands of Xhosa people died. The second major people who were conquered in the nineteenth century by the Brits were the Zulus. The Zulus had been the dominant tribe in Southeastern Africa after the foundation of their nation by their great King Shaka. The British settled what is now the Natal Province of South Africa and they brought in white settlers and Indians to work on sugar farms. But they were very nervous about this powerful Zulu kingdom to the north of them the Tugela River. And so they found a reason to declare war against the Zulus. And to their enormous surprise at the Battle of Isandlwana in 1878 a whole British army was wiped out, 1500 men. This was just a few years after the Little Bighorn but it's five times as big. And the Zulus wiped out a whole British army. Of course the Brits sent more troops and they were -- they defeated the King Cetshwayo by the next year in 1879. The third people that the Brits conquered were the Afrikaners or the Boers who had been settled in South Africa since 1652. They didn't like British rule so in the nineteenth century they trekked into the interior. They founded two republics, the Republic of the Orange Free State and the Republic of The Transvaal. But then the people in the Free State made the big mistake of discovering the biggest diamond load in history at Kimberley. So the Brits annexed that. And then in the 1880s the Transvaal Republic made the huge mistake of discovering the biggest gold bearing body in the world, the famous Johannesburg reef. And the result of this was that the British again sought a pretext for war with these two republics. And that led to the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. Now the Anglo-Boer War was the biggest war that the British fought between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War. They deployed over 438,000 imperial troops in South Africa. They conquered the two territories and then having taken them over at the beginning of the twentieth century they didn't know what to do with them. So they looked around the empire and said oh well look, in Canada we had this dominion. We had a federation there and that's worked very well. We did it in Australia and in different states. We created a federation there. Why don't we do that in Southern Africa. So they did. But they decided to keep some territories in and some territories out. They included the Zulus and the Xhosas of the new society but they gave control of the new country, the Union of South Africa which was established in 1910 to the whites. Because at that time black people in Africa throughout the world didn't really have political rights. So for most of the twentieth century the big question in South Africa was not the relationship between whites and blacks but the relationship between English speaking whites and Afrikaans speaking whites. And the Afrikaans speaking whites wanted to reestablish their republics. That was the driving force behind the National Party which came to power in 1948. Now they then instituted or they -- not racial segregation. They gave it a new name -- apartheid. And it was straightforward racial domination. But before we become too morally self-righteous, that is what was happening in the rest of Africa, unacceptable indefensible. It was what was happening in the South in the United States at the time. Undefensible, unacceptable. But it wasn't unusual. Then Africa started moving toward independence with Ghana in 1957. A new prime minister came to power in 1958 called Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd and he thought, okay, right. The British and the French are decolonizing in Africa. We'll do the same here. This country's only 60 years old so we'll give the Zulu bits back to the Zulus. We'll give the Xhosa bits back to the Xhosas and the other national groups. And he had this great idea of unscrambling this South African omelet. That was called separate development. Everybody would be able to develop to the top level in their own societies. And this way whites would be able to retain a right to national self-determination that they'd always had. Unfortunately he was a sociologist and you never, never put a sociologist in charge of countries because they will do social engineering. And this is a really good example of the negative effects of social engineering. The idea was okay, we've got too many blacks here. Let's move them over here, you know. They don't want to but you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. And that was, I think, where a lot of the hardship in South Africa under apartheid came from. But it was an illusion. There was no way that you were gonna unscramble this omelet and unscramble the eggs. Economic growth was bringing more and more South Africans together in the economy in the so called white areas. So it was a delusion and Verwoerd was assassinated in 1966. His successor John Foster continued with this delusion for the next 10 years, 12 years until he was replaced by a guy called P.W. Botha. P.W. Botha said look, this isn't working. We're going to have to reform this. So he was a reformer. By 1986 he'd abolished a hundred apartheid laws including some of the most repulsive mixed marriages, legislation limiting the ability of black South Africans to move from one place to the other. He looked at the political rights of the Coloured and Indian minorities and adopted a new constitution in 1983 in terms of which Coloureds and Indians were brought into the same party as whites. But of course all of this raised the question and focused the question on the right of black South Africans to political self-determination. So at the beginning of the 1980s white South Africans found themselves riding a tiger. The tiger was an increasingly articulate and increasingly economically aware black population. The rest of the world was shouting at South Africa -- get off the tiger. The problem with riding a tiger is actually how you dismount it because the audience isn't really concerned whether you're gonna get eaten or not. And white South Africans had concerns. They were concerned about the fact that they had had a right to self-determination. The Afrikaners had for 100, 200 years striven to rule themselves. They didn't want to rule anybody else. The question was how would they be able to maintain their right to national self-determination and a one man, one vote dispensation in South Africa. The second problem was the fact that democracy, one man, one vote elections hadn't worked very well in the rest of Africa at that stage. I think by the mid-1980s there'd been more than 90 coups d'états in the rest of Africa. So a lot of whites were worried -- look yeah, the rest of the world tells us to get off the tiger but if we do that we have one election and then we have chaos. And then a third great concern was the role of the South African Communist Party within the ANC. During the 1970s and 1980s virtually all of the members of the ANCs National Executive Committee were also members of the South African Communist Party. And we knew that the communist party had adopted a two phase revolutionary process. And this was a classic Soviet model throughout the world. First phase of the process is called national liberation and it takes place under the egress of the national liberation movement which unites all factions in society opposed to the regime. It leads society to the national liberation. And at that stage the communist party takes over as the vanguard of the process and leads on toward the establishment of a communist state. Now we weren't too keen about this. It wasn't just a question of Reds under beds. The Soviet Union was really interested in expanding its influence in Southern Africa. In the cold war the main theater of activity was proxy wars as sponsored by the Soviet Union in third world countries. So we had the problem of 50,000 Cuban troops to the north of us in Angola. We had on the east a Mozambique Communist government very closely allied to the Soviet Union. So we were very worried about the Communist dimension in all of this. But then as he progressed P.W. Botha found out that it wasn't going to be possible to reform apartheid. He couldn't really bring himself to accept that a new South Africa would have to be on a one man, one vote basis. That it would not be possible for whites to maintain any kind of sovereignty within the new South Africa because they were nowhere close to being in the majority. But this is something that he couldn't really accept. During this period however, a huge debate was taking place in the ruling national party. And by the mid-1980s, by 1987, 1988 it had been accepted that we really needed transformation rather than reform. And P.W. Botha I don't think was a student of Tocqueville. He didn't realize that revolutions take place in situations of rising expectations. That it's when states begin to reform that they really take the lid off the pressure cooker. And that's what had happened in South Africa so we had widespread unrest and protests in 1984 and 1985. We had a state of emergency in 1986 which put the lid back on. But the national party leadership then realized that look there was not gonna be any way of doing this without transformation. And that's when de Klerk became the leader of the National Party in February 1989 after P.W. Botha had suffered from a stroke. De Klerk in his first speech said we need a totally changed South Africa. When he became president in September 1989 he immediately moved toward normalizing the situation. He allowed protests in the streets much to the delight of Archbishop Tutu. He released the -- all of the remaining high profile ANC prisoners except Mandela. He held talks with Mandela. And then on the second of February, 1990, he made a speech in parliament in which he opened the way to negotiations. He put it all on the table at once. This was very important because he surpassed expectations and it meant that we could get the ball rolling in terms of a negotiation process. The ANC was taken unawares. On the, I think the ninth of February de Klerk had a meeting with Mr. Mandela who was then a prisoner but under raised favorable circumstances he had his own house and so forth. And he said, "Mr. Mandela, we're releasing you on Sunday in two days." And Mr. Mandela's response was, "No, you can't possibly do that. We do not have enough time to make arrangements." And de Klerk said, "Look, we have to do it then but you can choose where you want to be released in Johannesburg or Capetown." And that was the first of many, many compromises that were made in the subsequent negotiations. The factors that made the negotiations possible included the following. First of all by 1987 all sides to the conflict had accepted that there would not be an armed solution. Our own security forces which were very powerful realized that you could not maintain the situation through armed force forever. We could have kept on for another two or three decades but under really negative circumstances. The ANC realized there wasn't going to be a revolutionary outcome. And it's only when parties accepted there will not be an armed outcome that you can have genuine negotiations. Something that hasn't happened yet, for example, in the Middle East. So that was the first green traffic light. Then in 1988, in fact in September 1987 our armed forces were involved in very severe conflict, in battles with Cuban and Russian led forces in Southern Angola. The Battle of the Lumber River was probably the biggest set-piece battle in Africa since the Second World War. More than 5,000 Angolan troops died in that battle, hardly covered at all in the international media. But what it meant was that the Russians got tired of trying to find an armed solution in Southern Africa. Gorbachev was more interested in Perestroika and Glasnost and that was the turning of the tide. So in 1988 there was an international agreement between the Angolans, Cubans and the Americans regarding the withdrawal of the 50,000 Cuban troops from Angola. This opened the way for the independence of Namibia, immediately to the south of Angola that South Africa had ruled since 1915 under a league of nations mandate. The elections were supervised by the U.N. They worked well. What it proved was that positive outcomes should -- could be achieved in negotiations even with one's bitterest enemies provided there's a proper constitutional framework. So that was traffic light two and three turning green. Underlying all of this there had been huge shifts in economic relationships, social relationships in the 70s and 80s. In 1970 black South Africans share of personal disposable income in South Africa was only about 20 percent. Whites share was 72 percent. The rest was Coloured and Asian. But by 1994 the whites share had fallen to under 50 percent. Black share was up around 38 percent. Coloureds and Asians the rest. And this meant that relationships had changed also quite dramatically. The economy could not be run on the basis of the white workers alone. The end of the 1970s we had to make our first really big reforms and they were labor reforms and they gave genuine trade union rights to black South Africans. But that also increased the bargaining power of black South Africans, incomes rose and the economy became much more integrated and you had more and more black kids coming into the economy at higher and higher levels. So in your average bank you would have had black tellers and white tellers doing the same jobs working beside one another. There's no way they're gonna go to segregated dining rooms. There's no way ultimately they're gonna go to segregated places of entertainment. So it was a question of economic forces changing social relationships putting unbearable pressure on outmoded constitutional relationships. And that, in fact, has been the process of development throughout the world.

Contents

Legislative

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town.
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.[vague]

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.

The President is elected by the members of the General Assembly. Upon election the President resigns as an MP and appoints a Cabinet of Ministers from among the members. Ministers however retain their parliamentary seats. 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 7 May 2014.[1]

Executive

The Union Buildings, the seat of the national executive
The Union Buildings, the seat of the national executive

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. The ministers individually, and the Cabinet collectively, are accountable to Parliament for their actions.

Ministries

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.

Portfolio Minister[2] Party Deputy Minister Party
President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa ANC - -
Deputy President of South Africa David Mabuza ANC - -
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
Minister in the Presidency
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ANC - -
Women
Minister in the Presidency
Bathabile Dlamini ANC - -
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana SACP Sfiso Buthelezi ANC
Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa ANC Maggie Sotyu ANC
Basic Education Angie Motshekga ANC Enver Surty ANC
Communications Nomvula Mokonyane SACP Pinky Kekana ANC
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize ANC Andries Nel, Obed Bapela ANC
Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ANC Kebby Maphatsoe ANC
Economic Development Ebrahim Patel COSATU Madala Masuku ANC
Energy Jeff Radebe SACP Thembi Majola ANC
Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa ANC Barbara Thomson ANC
Finance Nhlanhla Nene ANC Mondli Gungubele ANC
Health Aaron Motsoaledi ANC Joe Phaahla ANC
Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor ANC Buti Manamela ANC
Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba ANC Fatima Chohan ANC
Human Settlements Nomaindia Mfeketo ANC Zoe Kota-Hendricks ANC
International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu ANC Luwellyn Landers, Reginah Mhaule ANC
Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha ANC John Jeffery, Thabang Makwetla ANC
Labour Mildred Oliphant ANC Inkosi Patekile Holomisa ANC
Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe ANC Godfrey Oliphant ANC
Police Bheki Cele ANC Bongani Mkongi ANC
Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan ANC - -
Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo ANC Chana Pilane-Majeke ANC
Public Works Thulas Nxesi ANC Jeremy Cronin SACP
Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana-Mashabane ANC Mcebisi Skwatsha, Candith Mashego-Dlamini ANC
Science and Technology Nkhensani Kubayi-Ngubane ANC Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi NFP
Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu ANC Cassel Mathale ANC
Social Development Susan Shabangu ANC Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu ANC
Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa ANC Gert Oosthuizen ANC
State Security Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba ANC Ellen Molekane ANC
Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele ANC Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams ANC
Tourism Derek Hanekom ANC Elizabeth Thabethe ANC
Trade and Industry Rob Davies SACP Gratitude Magwanishe ANC
Transport Blade Nzimande SACP Sindisiwe Chikunga ANC
Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti ANC Pam Tshwete ANC

Judicial

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 recognised in terms of an Act of Parliament.

Provincial government

The provincial governments of the nine provinces of South Africa have their own executive and legislative branches, but not separate judicial systems. In each province the legislative branch consists of a provincial legislature, varying in size from 30 to 80 members, which is elected through party-list proportional representation. The legislature elects one of its members as Premier to lead the executive branch, and the Premier appoints between five and ten members of the legislature as an executive council (a cabinet) to lead the various departments of the provincial government.

Local government

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[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Opposition

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

  1. ^ http://www.elections.org.za/content/Elections/Elections-timetables-Municipal-by-elections/
  2. ^ "Government Leaders". South African Government. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  3. ^ With the exception of the Prince Edward Islands, although they are for certain legal purposes deemed to fall within the City of Cape Town.
  4. ^ "Municipal elections: fact file". Media Club South Africa. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Understanding Local Government". Community Organisers Toolbox. Education and Training Unit. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 

External links

This page was last edited on 27 May 2018, at 11:34
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