You are here -allRefer - Reference - Country Study & Country Guide - South Africa >

allRefer Reference and Encyclopedia Resource

allRefer    
allRefer
   


-- Country Study & Guide --     

 

South Africa

 
Country Guide
Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Angola
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Brazil
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Caribbean Islands
Comoros
Cyprus
Czechoslovakia
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Finland
Georgia
Germany
Germany (East)
Ghana
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Cote d'Ivoire
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Laos
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Maldives
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Mongolia
Nepal
Nicaragua
Nigeria
North Korea
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Singapore
Somalia
South Africa
South Korea
Soviet Union [USSR]
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Syria
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkmenistan
Turkey
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yugoslavia
Zaire

South Africa

System of Government

The new political system was established by the interim constitution voted into law in late 1993 and officially implemented on April 27, 1994. The interim constitution provides for a Government of National Unity and for a five-year transition, during which the final constitution would be drafted by the Constitutional Assembly, consisting of the combined Senate and National Assembly. To understand fully the revolutionary nature of the new government and the direction that the political transition is li kely to take in the long term, it is necessary to examine the evolution of the political system that was based on the principles and practices of apartheid.

Historical Background

The Union of South Africa became a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth on May 31, 1910, when four British dependencies were merged under the South Africa Act passed by the British Parliament in 1909. Unification was interpreted dif ferently by British and by Afrikaner leaders, however. To the British, uniting the four dependencies was central to their imperialist philosophy of consolidating the empire; to many Afrikaners, unity represented a step toward weakening British imperial in fluence. Ironically, however, this act failed to unite South Africa in a real sense because by excluding the black majority from political participation, it fueled the discontent and the conflict that characterized the country's politics throughout the tw entieth century.

The South Africa Act served as the Union of South Africa's constitution until 1961. Although the country was formally ruled by a governor general representing the Crown, its government was granted almost total independence in internal affairs. Britain 's 1931 Statute of Westminster removed many constitutional limitations on all British dominions, and South Africa's corresponding legislation, the Status of Union Act of 1934, declared that no act of the British parliament could apply to South Africa unle ss accepted by the Union parliament.

South Africa officially became the Republic of South Africa on May 31, 1961, following a national referendum among the country's white voters on October 5, 1960. The constitution of 1961 was based largely on the South Africa Act, but it severed ties w ith the British Commonwealth of Nations, replacing the words "king," "queen," and "crown" with "state." The state president replaced the British monarch and governor general.

The 1961 constitution provided for a president, a prime minister, and an executive council (cabinet) with offices at Pretoria (where most of the administrative bureaucracy was located). A bicameral legislature was situated at Cape Town. The independen t judiciary was headquartered at Bloemfontein.

The 1961 constitution maintained white political domination through an electoral system that denied blacks, coloureds, and Asians the right to vote for national office holders. Coloureds and Asians, but not blacks, won limited participation in ethnic affairs through, respectively, a Coloured Persons' Representative Council established in 1964 and a South African Indian Council established in 1968. Since 1951 the Bantu Authorities Act had restricted black political participation to homelands (also refe rred to as Bantustans) set aside for Africans. During the 1970s and the 1980s, four of the ten homelands were declared "independent" black states, while the remaining six were known as "self-governing" territories.

Following intense debate and a series of legislative revisions in the early 1980s, the new Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act (No. 110) of 1983 went into effect on September 22, 1984. It outlined a government led by a president, who serv ed as head of state and chief executive, and a parliamentary system with increased coloured and Indian representation. The new, tricameral Parliament encompassed a (white) House of Assembly, a (coloured) House of Representatives, and an (Indian) House of Delegates. The president was selected by an eighty-eight-member electoral college consisting of fifty whites, twenty-five coloureds, and thirteen Indians, chosen by a majority vote in their respective houses of parliament. The president served for the dur ation of the parliament that selected him, normally a five-year term. The president could dissolve the parliament, or could extend it by up to six months beyond its five-year term.

The president shared executive authority with a cabinet, which he appointed from the tricameral parliament, and with a Ministers Council chosen by him from the majority in each house of parliament. In addition, the president relied on a sixty-member P resident's Council for advice on urgent matters and for resolution of differences among houses of parliament. The President's Council comprised twenty members from the House of Assembly, ten from the House of Representatives, five from the House of Delega tes, fifteen nominated by the president, and ten nominated by opposition party leaders. The NP dominated the President's Council throughout the ten-year duration of the 1983 constitution.

The three-chambered parliament was based on a fundamental premise of the 1983 constitution, the distinction between a racial community's "own" affairs (encompassing education, health, housing, social welfare, local government, and some aspects of agri culture), and "general" affairs (encompassing defense, finance, foreign policy, justice, law and order, transport, commerce and industry, manpower, internal affairs, and overall agricultural policy). Thus, legislation "affecting the interests" of one comm unity was deliberated upon by the appropriate house, but legislation on "general affairs" of importance to all races was handled by all three houses of parliament. Disagreements among houses of parliament on specific legislation could be resolved by the P resident's Council, giving the NP-dominated House of Assembly substantial weight in determining the outcome of all legislative debates. The president signed all legislation, and he also exercised administrative responsibility for black affairs.

The country was divided into four provinces--Cape of Good Hope Province (later, the Cape Province), Natal Province, the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State. The president appointed a provincial administrator for each province. Until the mid-1980s, th e provincial administrator acted in consultation with a provincial council, which was elected by whites only. In July 1987, the provincial councils were replaced by eight multiracial regional services councils (RSCs)--four in the Transvaal, three in the C ape Province, and one in the Orange Free State. The RSCs were empowered to administer government regulations and to coordinate the provision of services to local communities.

Data as of May 1996

South Africa - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Government and Politics

  • Go Up - Top of Page

    Make allRefer Reference your HomepageAdd allRefer Reference to your FavoritesGo to Top of PagePrint this PageSend this Page to a Friend


    Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


    Content on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. We accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities.

     

     

     
     


    About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy | Links Directory
    Link to allRefer | Add allRefer Search to your site

    allRefer
    All Rights reserved. Site best viewed in 800 x 600 resolution.