Politics of South Africa BENEDICT (VIKTOR) GOMBOCZ
South Africa’s political system: Overview The Republic of South Africa is a unitary, presidential republic. The President of South Africa leads both the state and the government; in the same conduct as PMs of other countries, the President is elected by the National Assembly (the lower house of South Africa’s parliament) and must have the self-assurance of the Assembly if she or he wants to stay in office. South Africans likewise elect provincial legislatures which rule each of the nine provinces of South Africa. Since apartheid was banned in the 1990s, the African National Congress (ANC) has ruled South African politics; it is the national legislature’s governing party, and also in eight of the nine provinces, having won 65.9% of the vote in the 2009 general election and 62.9% of the popular vote during the 2011 municipal election. The Democratic Alliance, led by Helen Zille, is the primary competitor to the ANC’s rule; it won 16.66% of the vote in the 2009 election and 24.1% of the popular vote in the 2o11 election. Other big political parties with parliament representation are the Inkatha Freedom Party, which mostly represents Zulu voters (with 4.55%), and the Congress of the People, which acquired 7.42% in the 2009 election. The previously governing New National Party, which both commenced and outlawed apartheid through its predecessor, the National Party, dissolved in 2005 and subsequently merged with the ANC. Jacob Zuma is South Africa’s president as of 2012.
South Africa’s political system: South African Government South Africa is a presidential representative democratic republic; the President of South Africa, elected by parliament, heads both the government and system of multiple parties. The government exercises executive power. Both the government and the two chambers of Parliament, the Council of Provinces and the National Assembly, exercise legislative power. The judiciary is independent of both the executive and the legislature. The government is three-tiered; delegates are elected at the national, regional, and local levels.
South Africa’s political system: South African Government (cont.) Capital: Pretoria (executive) Bloemfontein (judicial) Cape Town (legislative) Largest city: Johannesburg Official languages: Afrikaans, English, Southern Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu Demonym: South African Government: Constitutional parliamentary republic President: Jacob Zuma Deputy President: Kgalema Motlanthe NCOP Chairman: M. J. Mahlangu National Assembly Speaker: Max Sisulu Chief Justice: Mogoeng Mogoeng
South Africa’s political system: Constitution South Africa was run by a provisional constitution after the 1994 elections; that constitution required the Constituent Assembly (CA) to outline and pass a lasting constitution by 9 May 1996. The Government of National Unity (GNU) that was created under the temporary constitution remained in use until the 1999 national elections. The parties that originally were the GNU – the African National Congress (ANC), the National Party (NP), and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) – split executive power. The NP left the GNU on 30 June 1996, to join the opposition. Due to the long history of apartheid, the South African Constitution, very supreme as it is illustrated, has crucial information that asks for the protection of the people’s liberty.
South Africa’s political system: President The President of South Africa, under the constitution, heads both the state and the government of a multi-party structure.
South Africa’s political system: Political parties and their current vote share General elections are held every 5 years. Four fully multi-racial democratic elections have taken place: in 1994, 1999, 2004, and most recently, 2009. Elected candidates were permitted to switch their political parties, while they kept their seats, during set windows which happened twice (caused by controversial floor crossing legislative changes made in 2002), until 2008; the most recent floor crossing windows took place in 2005 and in 2007. Following the 2009 elections, the ANC lost its two-thirds majority, that permitted it unilaterally to revise the constitution, in the national legislature. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) are in an official alliance with the governing ANC; they are not represented separately in elections.
South Africa’s political system: Parties represented in Parliament African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) African National Congress (ANC) African Peoples’ Convention (APC) Azanian People’s Organisation (APO) Congress of the People (COPE) Democratic Alliance (DA) Freedom Front + (FF+) Minority Front (MF) Independent Democrats (ID) – currently merging with DA , as of 2012 Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) South African Communist Party (SAPC) – as part of the ANC-led “Tripartite Alliance” since 1994, the SACP has not participated in elections in its own name United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) United Democratic Movement (UDM)
South Africa’s political system: Human rights The constitution’s bill of rights provides numerous guarantees: equality before the law and preventions of discrimination; the right to life, privacy, possessions, and freedom and defense of the individual; prevention of slavery and forced labour; and freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and association. The legal liberties of criminal suspects likewise are specified. The constitution also includes wide guarantees of the right to use food, water, schooling, health care, and social security. The constitution also provides for an independent and neutral judiciary; in practice, these conditions are upheld. Citizens’ privileges to a secure environment, housing, learning, and health care are included in the bill of rights; they are known as secondary constitutional freedoms. In 2003, the constitutional secondary freedoms were used by HIV/AIDS activist organization the Treatment Action Campaign as a way of making the government alter its health policy.
South Africa’s political system: Human rights (cont.) Violent crime, such as crime against women and children, and organised criminal activity are in high numbers and are a serious concern; in part as a result, vigilante action and gang justice occasionally occur. Some police associates engage in mistreatment of civilians; deaths in police detainment resulting from extreme force are still a problem. In April 1997, the government set up an Independent Complaints Directorate to inspect deaths in police detainment and deaths as a result of police interference. Some prejudice against women persists; prejudice against those infected with HIV/AIDS is becoming a serious concern. There is also increasing political bigotry and oppression.
South Africa’s political system: Notable politicians Numerous leaders of past bantustans or homelands have played a role in South African politics since those bantustans or homelands were done away with. Mangosuthu Buthelezi served as chief minister of his native Kwa-Zuku from 1976-1994; he has served as the Inkatha Freedom Party’s president in post-apartheid South Africa. He was also a minister in former President Nelson Mandela’s cabinet, acting as president when Mandela was out of the country. Bantubonke Holomisa, who was a general in his native Transkei from 1987, has been the president of the United Democratic Movement since 1997; he is currently an MP. General Constand Viljoen is an ex-chief of the South African Defense Force; as one of the leaders of the Afrikaner Volksfront, he sent 1,500 of his militiamen in support of Lucas Mangope’s government and to challenge the extinction of Bophuthatswana as a homeland in, 1994; the same year, he helped found the Freedom Front. He has retired from parliament. Lucas Mangope, the ex-chief of the Motsweda Ba hurutshe Boo-Manyane clan of the Tswana, former president of the ex-bantustan of Bophuthatswana, was once the United Christian Democratic Party’s leader.
African National Congress Ruling political party of South Africa, backed by its Tripartite Alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), since non-racial democracy replaced apartheid in April 1994. Classifies itself as a “disciplined force of the left.” Affiliates founded the organization as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) on 8 January 1912 at the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein to amplify the freedoms of South Africa’s black population. Its first president, John Dube, and poet and novelist Sol Plaatje were among its founding affiliates. The organization was renamed the ANC in 1923, creating a military wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) in 1961. Has been the governing party of South Africa in the post-apartheid years on the national level since 1994. Increased its majority in the 1999 elections; further increased it in 2004, winning 69.7% of the votes. Its share of the vote slightly diminished in 2009, but nonetheless remained the biggest party with 65.9% of the votes.
Democratic Alliance Ruling party in the Western Cape region, and the main opposition to the governing African National Congress (ANC). Traces its origins to the movement against apartheid of the 1970s and 1980s, when it was known interchangeably as the Progressive Party, the Progressive Reform Party, and the Progressive Federal Party; during this time, it featured notable anti-Apartheid advocates including Helen Suzman, Colin Eglin, Harry Schwarz, and Fredrik van Zyl Slabbert. Was known as the Democratic Party in the 1990s, rising from relative insignificance into official opposition. Was renamed the Democratic Alliance, during a brief alliance with the New National Party (NNP) in 2000 – while the NNP later left to join the ANC, the new name was kept. More recently, it has merged with the smaller Independent Democrats and the little South African Democratic Convention, but preserved its existing name. Its present leader is ex-Mayor of Cape Town and Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille, who succeeded Tony Leon in May 2007; Zille, who was awarded the title of World Mayor in 2008, chose not to move to the National Assembly, where the party is in his place led by Lindiwe Mazibuko. Mazibuko heads a parliamentary committee of 77 affiliates (67 in the National Assembly and 10 in the National Council of Provinces) who likewise comprise the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet. The DA’s federal chairman is Dr. Wilmot James; its chairman of its federal management is James Selfe and its national spokesperson is Mmusi Maimane. As of July 2010, the DA’s Youth Leader is Makashule Gana, while Mbali Ntuli is its Youth Chairman; its CEO is Jonathan Moakes. Is largely centrist, even though it has been characterized as both left of centre and right of centre politics. Is a member of Liberal International and the Africa Liberal Network.