South Africa Political System

According to, with capital city of Bloemfontein; Pretoria; Cape Town, South Africa is a country located in Southern Africa with total population of 59,308,701.

Where is South Africa

State and politics

When the apartheid system, introduced in 1948, was abolished in connection with the first free elections in 1994 and the freedom fighter Nelson Mandela became president, many looked optimistic about the future of South Africa. However, the hopes of a deeper democratic society have largely come to shame; poverty is still widespread and the ANC government and its top leadership have been hampered by corruption scandals. See for South Africa higher education.


In democratic South Africa, introduced by the general elections in 1994, the system of bantustans for the blacks was abolished. The whole of South Africa is a political entity, but in a complicated mix of central government and federalism, the nine provinces have fairly far-reaching powers in areas such as education, cultural issues and financial planning.

The new constitution, which came into force in 1997, was written by the Constituent Assembly, which consisted of Parliament’s two chambers: the 400 members of the National Assembly elected every five years in proportional elections and the 90 members of the provincial council, ten from each province, elected by the provincial parliaments.

The president, who is head of state and government and elected by Parliament for five years, can be re-elected once. All of the country’s presidents and prime ministers since independence in 1910 have been men. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how SF can stand for South Africa.


The negotiations between the ANC (African National Congress, the African National Congress), the Nationalist Party (National Party, NP) and other parties prior to the transition to democracy resulted in a transitional basis in November 1993. According to this, every party that had at least 5 percent of the vote would be represented in the first “government of national unity”. This government consisted of the ANC, the Nationalist Party and the Zuludominated Inkatha (Inkatha Freedom Party, IFP). FW de Klerk was one of two Vice Presidents, ANC Vice Chairman Thabo Mbeki the other.

As expected, the first free elections in 1994 became a major victory for the ANC, which gained a majority in Parliament (62.7 percent), but still not the two-thirds needed to change the Constitution. The NP got a fifth of the vote, and thanks to strong support among colored people in the Western Cape province, the provincial government party became there. Inkatha received a tenth of the votes. Nelson Mandela became the country’s first president after the introduction of democracy.

NP never succeeded in getting support from blacks, and was dissolved in 2005 after many of the party’s MPs moved to the ANC. Poor blacks have usually chosen between the ANC and not to vote. The ANC’s radical platform has gradually been replaced by a reformist market-oriented approach, which has drawn criticism from the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the trade union Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which have been allied with the ANC since the early 1990s..

The ANC has maintained its strong grip on power and received 66.4 percent of the votes in 1999 and 66.7 percent in 2004. However, the party has struggled with internal contradictions. Thabo Mbeki, who took over as president after Mandela in 1999, was appointed for a second term in 2004, but resigned prematurely in 2008 and was replaced by ANC Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe. This happened after Mbeki lost an internal power struggle against former Vice President Jacob Zuma. He was elected party leader in the ANC in 2007 and after the 2009 election he was elected president.

The already earlier corruption-accused Zuma’s time as president became controversial with new corruption scandals and national economic stagnation. Before the 2009 elections, dissatisfied ANC members broke out of the party and formed the Congress of the People (Cope), but the new party received only 7 percent of the vote against the ANC’s 65.9 percent. Five years later, the ANC did back down but retained its position as by far the largest party with 62.2 percent of the vote.

The ANC is primarily challenged by two parties with different profiles. The Liberal Democratic Alliance (DA) is strongest in the Western Cape, where it has been in the majority since 2009. The party is still considered by many as a party for whites even though the party leader since 2015, Mmusi Maimane (born 1980), is black. The DA has been the largest opposition party since 1999 (9.6 percent of the vote) and strengthened its position in all elections up to and including 2014, when the party gained 22.2 percent of the vote.

The third largest party since 2014 is the left-wing dissatisfaction party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), founded by the former chairman of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema (born 1981). This year, the EFF received 6.4 percent of the vote. The controversial Malema in many camps has attracted voters with their militant appearance as well as promises to nationalize mines and force white farmers to leave their land without financial compensation.

The ANC’s position weakened in the local elections held in 2016, even though the party received more than 55 percent of the vote nationally. Among other things, the party lost power in the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria and in symbolically saturated Nelson Mandela Bay (with the city of Port Elizabeth) to DA-led coalitions. Cape Town was previously ruled by the DA.

In February 2018, the ANC demanded that Zuma resign from the presidential post prematurely, which he did in the run-up to a vote of no confidence in Parliament. New President was appointed Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa, who at the end of 2017 also took up the post of ANC party leader. During his first year as president, Ramaphosa took several steps to address the problems of corruption and boost the country’s economy. However, he had to take into account the strong support that Zuma still has in parts of the ANC.

That the party would lose votes in the 2019 elections was clear early on, and a result below 50 percent of the vote would greatly weaken Ramaphosa’s position. The party eventually landed on 57.5 percent of the vote nationally and managed by a marginal margin to retain the majority in the symbolically important province of Gauteng (where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located). The DA dropped slightly to 20.8 percent but retained control of the Western Cape Province, while the EFF went ahead to 10.8 percent of the vote.


The Dutch settlers applied Roman law, as described by the Dutch jurists of the 17th and 18th centuries, i.e. Hugo Grotius. This so-called Roman-Dutch law forms the basis of private law in South Africa, but it has changed over the years through both legislation and precedent.

Business law and public law are mainly English-influenced. The judicial system is complicated and consists of, among other things, small court, Magistrates’ Courts, provincial courts, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. The death penalty was abolished in 1997; the last execution took place in 1991.

Human Rights

The 1996 Constitution lifts the injustices of South Africa’s past and defines the Republic today as a sovereign democratic state based on the principles of human dignity and the achievement of equality and the promotion of human rights and freedoms.

Despite high aspirations to break away from its dark past, the country continues to struggle with the legacy of the apartheid era and the challenges posed by demands for economic and social rights for all citizens. As an example, hospital segregation is a closed chapter, but access to healthcare is still significantly poorer in areas where the majority of residents are black. The health of blacks is also poor and malnutrition is widespread among rural children.

Discrimination on the grounds of race, disability, ethnic or social origin, skin color, age, culture, language, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation or marital status is now prohibited by law. Despite this, entrenched attitudes and practices often lead to individuals being discriminated against at home as well as at different levels of society. Significant problems are the police’s use of excessive violence and torture as well as a high frequency of violent crimes against women, children and LGBTQ persons.

The most serious is the situation for the children. Offenses against children rarely lead to convictions. Reports show that the level of sexual violence against girls in the school environment from both teachers and students is alarmingly high with consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Organized trafficking in children for sexual exploitation is extensive and the children are smuggled mainly in the country, from the poor countryside to the cities.

Freedom of speech and press is relatively good in South Africa. However, the government and government-owned ownership of independent media are increasing. In addition, the state-owned media company South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has limited scope for criticism of the government. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, South Africa is ranked 39 out of 180.

Dutch style, Victorian style and 1930s art deco style.

The Zulu people have developed an advanced building technology that is well adapted to their nomadic lifestyle. The round dome houses are built of grass and twigs that are woven together in a decorative way. On the outside, grass ropes are braided in geometric patterns. In the past, when Zulu owned large livestock herds, circular and fenced settlements, kraals were created. The livestock, a vital property of the Zulus, were in the middle of the kraal so that the residents could monitor and protect it.


The traditional music of folk such as khoikhoi, nguni and venda is mainly vocal with different forms of soloist and multi-voice singing. Particularly significant are the polyphonic dance songs, which in many places are accompanied only by clapping. In these contexts, drums are used only by venda. The most important instruments are end-blown flutes, rattles and various variants of the musical arc, the latter mainly for individual music performance.

The musical life of the whites has European roots, which applies to the religious music of the African-speaking population (liederwysies), folk songs and traditional dance music (boeremusiek) as well as the art music and its institutions. Several of South Africa’s composers have won international recognition, including Arnold van Wyk (1916–83), John Joubert (born 1927), Gideon Fagan (1904–80) and Blanche Gerstman (1910–73).

Through the influence of, among others, the Christian churches in South Africa have emerged from western inspired choral musical traditions, sacred as well as secular, which have formed the breeding ground for internationally renowned singing groups such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Already in 1939 Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds recorded the song “Mbube” (“The Lion”), on which the American groups The Weavers and The Tokens later based their hit songs “Wimoweh” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

Early popular music, like jive, arose in the slums of cities, especially in Johannesburg. Under the name kwela, jive was played on simple tin whistle flutes popular in the 1950s. When one of the foreground figures, Spokes Mashiyane (1933-72), switched to saxophone, this became the dominant instrument instead; the music was now called mbaqanga. Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens are among the most important practitioners of music.

American music, first soul and then disco, made a big impression on South African artists during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the synthesizer became the dominant instrument in well-produced but lightweight pop known as bubblegum. During this period, but also later, Brenda Fassie (1964–2004) was the country’s biggest pop star. Another bestselling artist was the reggae star Lucky Dube (1964–2007).

Since the 1990s, popular music has been dominated by what is called kwaito, a broad genre description of music with influences from eg. house and drum’n’bass; Among the influential representatives are the group TKZee. Hip-hop has also had a major impact; among the most successful groups are Prophets of da City.

Jazz occupies an important place in South African music with singer Miriam Makeba as the brightest shining star. During her time in exile, she had great success with African songs such as “Pata Pata” and “The Click Song”. Other central figures are trumpeter Hugh Masekela (1939–2018) and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim.

Among white pop/rock artists, Johnny Clegg (1953–2019) has been the most significant. Modern African-language music has been on the rise since 1994 but rarely exhibits any national features.

Heads of State


1961-67 Charles R. Black
1967-68 JFT Naude (tf.)
1968-75 Jacobus J. Fouché
1975-78 Nicolaas Diederichs
1978-79 John Vorster
1979-84 Marais Viljoen
1984-89 PW Botha
1989-94 FW the Clerk
1994-99 Nelson Mandela
1999-2008 Thabo Mbeki
2008-09 Kgalema Motlanthe (tf.)
2009-18 Jacob Zuma
2018- Cyril Ramaphosa

Prime Ministers

1910-19 Louis Botha
1919-24 Jan Christiaan Smuts
1924-39 JBM Hertzog
1939-48 Jan Christiaan Smuts
1948-54 Daniel Malan
1954-58 Johannes G. Strijdom
1958-66 Hendrik Verwoerd
1966-78 John Vorster
1978-89 PW Botha