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Encyclopedia > Constitution of South Africa
South Africa

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
South Africa
Image File history File links Za-coa. ... // Constitution Following the 1994 elections, South Africa was governed under an interim constitution. ...

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The current and official Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on 8 May 1996. It is the supreme law of South Africa. The President of South Africa is the head of state and head of government under South Africas Constitution. ... Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18, 1942) is the President of the Republic of South Africa. ... The Deputy President of South Africa is appointed by the President of South Africa. ... Mrs Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (born November 3, 1955) is the current Deputy President of South Africa. ... Ministers, in the South African government, are Members of Parliament who hold a ministerial warrant to perform certain functions of government. ... The Parliament of South Africa is South Africas legislature and is composed of the National Assembly of South Africa and the National Council of Provinces. ... The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is the upper house of the Parliament of South Africa under the (post-apartheid) constitution which came into full effect in 1997. ... The National Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of South Africa, located in Cape Town, Western Cape Province. ... The Speaker of the National Assembly presides over the South African National Assembly. ... Tony Leon Anthony James Leon (born 15 December 1956) is a South African politician and the leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africas main opposition party and current leader of the opposition. ... Tony Leon Anthony James Leon (born 15 December 1956) is a South African politician and the leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africas main opposition party. ... The Judiciary of South Africa is an independent branch of government, subject only to the South African Constitution and the laws of the country. ... The South African Constitutional Court was established in 1994 by South Africas first democratic constitution: the Interim Constitution of 1993. ... The South African Supreme Court of Appeal (Afrikaans; Hoogste Hof van Appel van Suid Afrika) is the South African court that has the final say on all matters other than those that involve the interpretation of the constitution. ... The High Court of South Africa is a court of law in South Africa. ... Magistrates Courts in South Africa are the lower courts and the courts of of first instance and decide all matters as provided for by an act of parliament. ... Elections in South Africa gives information on election and election results in South Africa. ... Political parties in South Africa lists political parties in South Africa. ... A map of the nine provinces of South Africa South Africa is currently divided into nine provinces. ... Foreign Relations of South Africa South African forces fought on the Allied side in both World War I and World War II, and it participated in the postwar United Nations force in the Korean War. ... Information on politics by country is available for every country, including both de jure and de facto independent states, inhabited dependent territories, as well as areas of special sovereignty. ... May 8 is the 128th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (129th in leap years). ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... South Africa has a number of sources of legislation and law. ...



The South African Constitutional Court played an important role in the adoption of the 1996 Constitution. In terms of the interim constitution, the Parliament sitting as the Constitutional Assembly was required to produce a new constitution. In turn, the court was required to certify that the new constitution complied with the 34 constitutional principles agreed upon in advance by the negotiators of the Interim Constitution. The court ruled that the constitutional text adopted by the Constitutional Assembly in May 1996 could not be certified. The court identified the features of the new text that did not in its view comply with the Constitutional Principles and gave its reasons for that view. The Constitutional Assembly then had to reconsider the text, taking the court’s reasons for non-certification into account. The South African Constitutional Court was established in 1994 by South Africas first democratic constitution: the Interim Constitution of 1993. ... The Parliament of South Africa is South Africas legislature and is composed of the National Assembly of South Africa and the National Council of Provinces. ...

The Constitutional Assembly reconvened and on 11 October 1996, it adopted an amended constitutional text, containing many changes from the previous text, some dealing with the court’s reasons for non-certification and others tightening up the text. The amended text was then sent to the Constitutional Court for certification. In its judgement in the Certification of the Amended Text of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (4 December 1996) the court held that all of the grounds for non-certification of the earlier text had been eliminated in the new draft and accordingly certified that the text complied with the requirements of the Constitutional Principles. The text duly became the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in 1996 and came into effect in February 1997. It has been amended twelve times since its adoption. On 8 May 2006 the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the constitution was celebrated in parliament.


The constitution consists of a preamble, fourteen chapters followed by seven schedules. Each chapter and schedule focus on a specific topic. The following is a list of chapters and schedules and the focus of each.


Chapter 1 of the Constitution is entitled "Founding Provisions." It enshrines in the constitution key national principles, identifies the flag of South Africa and lists the official languages. By virtue of section 2 of chapter 1, all statutes that conflict with the Constitution are of no force or effect. A principle (not principal) is something, usually a rule or norm, that is part of the basis for something else. ... Flag ratio: 2:3 The current design of the National Flag of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on 27 April 1994, the end of apartheid prompting the widespread conviction that a new national flag must include the cultures of all South Africans. ... An official language is a language that is given a privileged legal status in a state, or other legally-defined territory. ...

South Africa is defined in this chapter as being a democratic, independent republic based upon the principles of protecting dignity, human rights and the rule of law. Values of dignity and human rights are repeated in Chapter 2. Democracy (literally rule by the people, from the Greek demos, people, and kratos, rule) is a form of government for a nation state, or for an organization in which all the citizens have an equal vote or voice in shaping policy or electing government officials. ... In a broad definition, a republic is a state or country that is led by people whose political power is based on principles that are not beyond the control of the people of that state or country. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Human rights are rights which some hold to be inalienable and belonging to all humans. ... The rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. ...

The official languages are identified by section 6 as being Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu. The government of South Africa is also required to promote usage of native languages. Choice of language by national or municipal government should take into consideration the most relevant language to the area affected. Section 6 also requires that a Pan South African Language Board must ­advance the use of all official languages, and to respect the citizens' use of other languages such as German or Urdu. Northern Sotho, Sepedi, or Sesotho sa Leboa, is one of the official languages of South Africa, and is spoken by 4,208,980 people (2001 Census Data), mostly in the provinces of Gauteng, Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga. ... Sesotho is a language spoken in southern Africa. ... Tswana, also known as Setswana, is a Bantu language. ... Swati (also known as siSwati and Swazi) is a Bantu language spoken in Swaziland and South Africa. ... Venda, also known as Tshivenda or Chivenda, is a Bantu language. ... The Tsonga language is spoken in southern Africa by the Tsonga people, also known as the Shangaan. ... Look up Wiktionary:Swadesh lists for Afrikaans and Dutch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... There are two versions of Ndebele in South Africa, they both belong to the Nguni group of Bantu Languages. ... Xhosa is a language of South Africa. ... Zulu, also known as isiZulu, is a language of the Zulu people with about 9 million speakers, the vast majority (over 95%) of whom live in South Africa. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Other chapters are,

  • Chapter 2 - Bill of Rights
  • Chapter 3 - Co-operative Government
  • Chapter 4 - Parliament
  • Chapter 5 - The President and National Executive
  • Chapter 6 - Provinces
  • Chapter 7 - Local Government
  • Chapter 8 - Courts and Administration of Justice
  • Chapter 9 - State Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy
  • Chapter 10 - Public Administration
  • Chapter 11 - Security Services
  • Chapter 12 - Traditional Leaders
  • Chapter 13 - Finance
  • Chapter 14 - General Provisions


  • Schedule 1 - National Flag
  • Schedule 2 - Oaths and Solemn Affirmations
  • Schedule 3 - Election Procedures
  • Schedule 4 - Functional Areas of Concurrent National and Provincial Legislative Competence
  • Schedule 5 - Functional Areas of Exclusive Provincial Legislative Competence
  • Schedule 6 - Transitional Arrangements
  • Schedule 7 - Laws Repealed

Amendments to the current constitution

There have been twelve amendments since 1996, and amendments No 13 and 14 currently being considered.

Amendment Act Date assented Brief description of issues dealt with
1 Act 35 of 1997 1997-08-28 Oath for acting presidents. Extended amnesty.
2 Act 65 of 1998 1998-09-28 Extend terms of municipal councils. Commissions. Transition arrangement for local government.
3 Act 87 of 1998 1998-10-20 Cross border municipalities.
4* Act 3 of 1999 1999-03-17 Provincial election dates. NCOP seat allocation.
5* Act 2 of 1999 1999-03-17 Election dates. Financial and fiscal commission chairperson.
6 Act 34 of 2001 2001-11-20 Title of Chief Justice. Appointment of deputy ministers. Municipal borrowing.
7 Act 61 of 2001 2001-12-07 Cabinet member responsible for financial matters.
8 Act 18 of 2002 2002-06-19 Municipal floor-crossing
9 Act 21 of 2002 2002-06-19 NCOP delegates (floor-crossing)
10 Act 2 of 2003 2003-03-19 National assembly and provincial legislature floor-crossing
11 Act 3 of 2003 2003-04-09 Financial matters. Name of Limpopo province. National/provincial intervention in provincial/local affairs.
12 Act 39 of 2005 2005-12-22 Provincial borders

* Act 3 of 1999 is known as the "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Amendment Act 1999" and Act 2 as the "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Second Amendment Act 1999". They are therefore listed here as the fourth and fifth amendments of the Constitution respectively. As they were assented to on the same day, presumably this is the order in which the president signed them. This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Capital Polokwane Largest city Polokwane Area  - Total Ranked 5th 123,900 km² Premier Mbhazima Shilowa (ANC) Population   - 2001   - 1996   - Density (2001) Ranked 4th 5,273,637 4,929,368 43/km² (Ranked 3rd) Languages Races Black (97. ... A map of the nine provinces of South Africa South Africa is currently divided into nine provinces. ...

Previous constitutions of South Africa

  • 1909 The South Africa Act
  • 1961 The Republic of South Africa
  • 1983 Establishment of the tri-cameral system
  • 1991 National Peace Accord
  • 1996 The Republic of South Africa

The South Africa Act 1909 was an Act of the British Parliament which created the Union of South Africa from the British Colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal. ... Tricameralism is the practice of having three legislative or parliamentary chambers. ...

External links

  • Copy of the Constitution from the official South African Government website

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Tailormade Journeys,South Africa,Holidays in South Africa,South Africa Tours,Tourist Attractions of South Africa, ... (1129 words)
South Africa is one of the most diverse, interesting and famous tourist destinations, often referred to as a "world in one country".
Durban is largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa, blessed with a wonderful climate, subtropical landscapes and a laid-back beach culture.
The vibrant city of Soweto in the south of Johannesburg is the largest of township in South Africa.
  More results at FactBites »



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