Form of Government
South Africa has a multiparty parliamentary democractic system of government. Constitutional power is jointly held between the president and the parliament.
The parliament consists of two houses, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly is comprised of 400 members who are directly elected for a term of five years. The National Council of Provinces is made up of 90 statutory members. Of the 90 members, 54 are appointed by political parties in provincial legislatures and the remaining 36 are special delegates representing provincial legislatures.
The president is the head of state. The president's responsibility includes assigning cabinet portfolios and approving bills and he is also the commander in chief of the military. The president performs his duty by working closely with the deputy president and the cabinet.
Jacob Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress, was officially chosen as the President by the newly elected parliament in May 2009.
Major political parties in the country are as follows:
- African National Congress
- Democratic Alliance
- Congress of the People
- Inkatha Freedom Party
- Independent Democrats
- United Democratic Movement
- African Christian Democratic Party
- United Christian Democratic Party
- Pan Africanist Congress
- Minority Front
- Azanian People's Organisation
- African People's Convention
- South African Communist Party
(Source: IPU, BBC, southafrica.info)
Regulatory Environment in South Africa
South Africa’s economic freedom score is 62.7, making its economy the 74th in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom. South Africa ranks fifth out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. South Africa’s overall score is higher than the global and regional averages.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a survey to measure the perceived level of corruption across countries worldwide. South Africa is ranked 54th on this list, indicating that corruption levels in public departments in the country is fairly low, especially compared to neighbouring nations such as Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia.
South Africa’s CPI ranking has improved since 2009, when it was ranked 55th with a score of 4.6, which indicates the perceived levels of corruption have decreased slightly in the country.
Freedom of information
The country’s constitution provides freedom to the press. Laws, regulation and political control over media are considered to be moderate.
World Press Freedom Index 2010 ranks South Africa at 38th with a score of 12.00.
Major newspapers in the country include
- The Star
- The Sowetan
- Daily Sun
- Mail & Guardian
- Business Day
- Financial Mail
- Sunday Times/The Times
The judiciary is an independent arm of the central government. The country’s constitution assures fair trial to all citizens.
Different judicial courts in South Africa are:
- Constitutional Court
- Supreme Court of Appeal
- High courts
- Circuit local divisions
- Other high courts
- Regional courts
- Magistrates' courts
- Criminal jurisdiction
- Other criminal courts
- Community courts
- Courts for income tax offenders
- Family courts
- Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) developments
- Mediation in maintenance matters
- Domestic violence
- Sexual offences courts
- Equality courts
- Civil jurisdiction
- Small claims courts
- Other civil courts
The Constitutional Court is the highest judicial authority. It makes the final decision on whether an act of parliament or a provincial act is legal. The constitutional court is comprised of the chief justice of South Africa, the deputy chief justice and nine constitutional court judges.
The Supreme Court of Appeal and High Courts along with the constitutional court have the authority to safeguard and control their own processes. The Supreme Court of Appeal is located in Bloemfontein, and is the highest court in respect of all matters other than constitutional. Furthermore, high courts take action in issues where lower courts are not competent to make a proper judgment.