South Africa: Constitution

Updated March 2019

CONSTITUTION Constitution of the Republic of SA; took effect February 4, 1997; amended seventeen time since[1].
FORM OF STATE Republic[2].
HEAD OF STATE The President is the Head of State and of government, as well as Commander in Chief of the armed forces[3].
The President is elected by the National Assembly from among its members[4].
The President is restricted to two terms of office of five years each[5].
EXECUTIVE Executive power lies with the President and the Cabinet (including the Deputy President); cabinet members are appointed and removed by the President[6].
LEGISLATURE National legislative power is vested in Parliament, which consists of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces[7].
The National Assembly consists of between 350 and 400 members directly elected in a proportional representation system (with no minimum entry threshold)[8].
The National Council of Provinces is comprised of a delegation of ten members from each of the nine provincial legislatures and each delegation has one vote. Members of a delegation are allocated to parties in proportion to their seats in the provincial legislature of that province[9].
JUDICIARY The court system comprises the Constitutional Court (headed by the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice), the Supreme Court of Appeal (headed by a President and Deputy President), the High Courts, magistrates' courts and other legislatively created courts of High Court or magistrates' court status[10].
The judges are appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission and, in some cases, other office bearers[11].
Judges are removable by the President for incapacity, gross incompetence or misconduct only on a two-thirds majority resolution of the Assembly[12].
AMENDMENTS Chapter 1 (Founding Provisions) may only be amended with a three-quarters majority in the Assembly and six of the nine delegations in the Council of Provinces. Amendments affecting the Council of Provinces and Chapter 2 (Bill of Rights) amendments require the concurrence of two-thirds of the Assembly and six of the nine delegations in the Council of Provinces. All other amendments require a two-thirds majority in the Assembly only[13].
DEMOCRACY PROTECTION AGENCIES The Public Protector is appointed for a non-renewable seven year term by the President on the recommendation of the National Assembly by 60% or more of the vote; the Public Protector has the power to investigate any conduct in any sphere of government that is alleged to be improper or to result in any impropriety or prejudice[14].
The South African Human Rights Commission was created to promote respect for human rights and a culture of human rights and commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Assembly for a maximum of seven years, renewable once[15].
The Independent Electoral Commission is established as an autonomous body to manage elections at all levels of government, to ensure elections are free and fair and to declare the results in as short a time as possible[16].

Notes

[1] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996; approved by Constitutional Court December 4, 1996; took effect February 4, 1997; amended 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013.
[2] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Article 1.
[3] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 83, 202.
[4] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Article 86.
[5] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 86(1) (cf Article 49(1)), 88.
[6] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 85, 91. The President may not appoint more than two ministers from outside the National Assembly. The President or Cabinet may be forced to step-down by a motion of no confidence passed by the National Assembly with a majority of its members (Article 102).
[7] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 43(a), 42(1), 44.
[8] The Constitution of the Republic of SA (1996, Article 46) specifies only that the members of the National Assembly be elected "in terms of an electoral system that... results, in general, in proportional representation". The Electoral Act (1998, Schedule 1A) lays out the detail of the system of representation.
[9] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 60(1), 61(1), 65(1), Schedule 3, Part B.
[10] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 166, 167(1), 168(1).
[11] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Article 174. In the case of the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice the President must also consult with leaders of parties in the Assembly. Other Constitutional Court judges require the advice of the Chief Justice as well as party leaders.
[12] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Article 177.
[13] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Article 74.
[14] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 182, 183.
[15] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 184-186.
[16] Constitution of the Republic of SA 1996, Articles 190-191.

Reference

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SA 1996, [www]http://www.gov.za/documents/constitution/Constitution-Republic-South-Africa-1996-1 (accessesed 19 July 2016). Amendments available at http://www.gov.za/documents/constitution-amendments (accessed 20 Mar 2019).