The Government of South Africa: Overview | Western Cape Government

The Government of South Africa: Overview

The National Government of South Africa is comprised of Parliament, Cabinet and various Departments. These components carry out functions as outlined in the Constitution and in legislation enacted by Parliament. 

The National Government Departments

Union Building

The Departments that make up the national administration are charged with implementing legislation and providing services to the public.

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
Department of Sports, Arts and Culture
Department of Basic Education
Department of Government Communication and Information System
Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs 
Department of Correctional Services
Department of Defence
Department of Economic Development
Department of Energy
Department of Health
Department of Higher Education and Training
Department of Home Affairs
Department of Human Settlements
Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Department of Employment and Labour
Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
Department of Police
Department of Public Enterprises
Department of Public Service and Administration
Department of Public Works and Infrastructure
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
Department of Science and Innovation 
Department of Social Development
Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa
Department of State Security
Department of Tourism
Department of Trade and Industry and Competition
Department of Transport
Department of Water and Sanitation
Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)
Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)
National Planning Commission
National Treasury
Public Service Commission
Statistics South Africa
The Presidency

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) came into effect on 4 February 1997. This is the highest law in South Africa and no other law or government action can overrule the Constitution or be in conflict with it. 

South Africa's Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world and is based on the values of dignity, equality and freedom.

Chapter 2 of the Constitution contains the Bill of Rights.


The South African Parliament

The South African Parliament is responsible for creating and amending the countries laws in accordance with the 

Constitution. It consists of two parts, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The National Assembly consists of 400 elected representatives who meet at the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, to debate issues and create legislation.

The National Council of Provinces consists of 54 permanent members and 36 special delegates representing the nine provinces. The NCOP represents provincial interests in the national sphere of government. 


Parliament outside view

The executive arm of national government is headed up by the Cabinet which consists of the President, the Deputy President and various Ministers appointed by the President from the National Assembly. The President also determines which functions each of the Ministers will perform.

The Cabinet members currently are:

Overview of South Africa

South African Flag

South Africa consists of 1 219 090 km² at the southern-most tip of Africa. There is a population of approximately 51.8 million people (Statistics South Africa, Census 2011).

South Africa is characterised by the diversity of its people in terms of race, culture and religion. This is reflected in the 11 national languages protected by the South African Constitution.

The country is divided into nine provinces, each with its own provincial parliament and administration. The nine provinces are:

Official languages













Total: 55,91 million

Male: 27,38 million (49%)

Female: 28,53 million (51%)

For more information on South Africa, consult the South Africa Yearbook.

The National Coat of Arms

A national Coat of Arms, or state emblem, is the highest visual symbol of the State. The Coat of Arms is also a central part of the Great Seal, traditionally considered to be the highest emblem of the State. Absolute authority is given to every document with an impression of the Great Seal on it, which means it has been approved by the President of South Africa.

South Africa’s Coat of Arms was launched on Freedom Day, 27 April 2000. The change reflected government's aim to highlight the democratic change in South Africa and a new sense of patriotism.

The design /symbols of the Coat of Arms consist of:

  • The mottoSouth African Coat of Arms
  • The ears of wheat
  • Elephant tusks
  • The shield
  • The human figures
  • The spear and knobkierie
  • The protea
  • The secretary bird
  • The rising sun

Read more about the National Coat of Arms and what it represents. 



The content on this page was last updated on 11 September 2020