General elections (national) are held at least once every five years. The voter has one vote only for the National Assembly. The last general election was held the 22nd April 2009.
The national executive is the second arm of government and comprises the President, Deputy President and the Ministers who make up the executive branch of the South African state. The President of the Republic of South Africa is his Excellency, the Honourable Jacob Zuma. The President and the Cabinet Ministers are called the “Executive”, because they are responsible for “executing” the laws made by Parliament.
Ministers are Members of Parliament who hold a ministerial warrant to perform certain functions of government.
At the national level, the head of the Executive is the President, who is assisted by the Executive Deputy President. The President is assisted by the Cabinet Ministers.
Each Cabinet Minister is given responsibility for a particular government department, and they are answerable to the Parliament for the operation of their department. For example, the Minister of Education heads the National Department of Education, and is answerable to Parliament for the operation of the Department of Education.
The judiciary is the third arm of government and independent from the other arms of government. The responsibility of the judiciary is to interpret the laws, using as a basis the laws as enacted and explanatory statements made in the Legislature during the enactment.
The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law and English common law and accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations. The constitution’s bill of rights provides for due process including the right to a fair, public trial within a reasonable time of being charged and the right to appeal to a higher court.
There are three major tiers of courts:
• Magistrates Courts – The court where civil cases involving less than R100 000, and cases involving minor crimes, are heard.
• High Courts – The court of appeal for cases from the magistrates courts, as well as the court where major civil and criminal cases are first heard.
• Supreme Court – The final court of appeal for matters not pertaining to the constitution.
• Constitutional Court – The final court of appeal for matters related to the constitution
The Constitutional Court has exclusive jurisdiction over certain types of matters, in terms of section 167 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court alone may decide on the following matters:
(a) disputes between organs of state in the national or provincial sphere concerning the constitutional status, powers or functions of any of those organs of state;
(b) the constitutionality of any parliamentary or provincial bill;
(c) applications made by MPs or MPLs regarding the constitutionality of national legislation or a provincial act;
(d) the constitutionality of any amendment to the Constitution;
(e) whether Parliament or the President has failed to fulfill a constitutional obligation; or
(f) certify a provincial constitution.
A High court may decide any constitutional matter, except a matter over which the Constitutional Court has exclusive jurisdiction or a matter assigned by an Act of Parliament to another court of a status to that of the High Court. The Supreme Court of Appeal may decide appeals in constitutional matters. It is the highest court of appeal in non-constitutional matters. The Supreme Court of Appeal, a High Court, or a court of similar status may make an order concerning the constitutional validity of an Act of Parliament, a provincial Act or any conduct of the President. However, an order of constitutional invalidity has no force unless it is confirmed by the Constitutional Court
In South Africa, the Provincial Legislature of a province is the legislative branch of the government of that province. The Provincial Legislatures are unicameral and vary in size from 30 to 80 members depending on the population of the province. In general the Provincial Legislature is made up of only one “House”. MPLs are elected for five years, just as the MPs in Parliament are.
At the provincial level, the Premier heads the “executive”.
The Premier appoints MPLs from the majority party to be Members of the Executive Council (MECs), and the Premier and the MECs form the “government”.
The North West Provincial Legislature currently has 33 MPLs and is situated in Mmabatho, the capital of the North West Province.
Currently, there are 25 MPLs for the African National Congress, 3 MPLs for the Democratic Alliance (DA) – official opposition, and 2 MPLs for Congress of the People (COPE) and 2 MPLs for the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP).
The North West Provincial Legislature has 4 parties. The African National Congress (also known as the ANC) is the ruling party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is the official opposition, Congress of the People (COPE) and the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP).
In the North West the Legislature has 33 seats. The Presiding officers in the North West Provincial Legislature are the Speaker, the Honourable Nono Maloyi, the Deputy Speaker, the Honourable Veronica Kekesi and the Chair of Chairs, the Honourable Raymond Elisha.
The current North West Provincial Legislature was established by the 1993 Interim Constitution of South Africa upon the creation of the new nine provinces. The 1993 Constitution came into effect (and the provinces came into existence) on 27 April 1994; the election on the same day elected the first PROVINCIAL Legislatures. For the most part, the provincial legislatures have been controlled by the African National Congress. The exceptions are the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, which was controlled by the Inkatha Freedom Party from 1994 to 2004; and the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, which was controlled by the (New) National Party from 1994 to 2004 (sometimes in coalition with the Democratic Party) and since 2009 has been controlled by the Democratic Alliance.
The Members of the North West Provincial Legislature (MPLs) are elected by party-list proportional representation with a closed list, using the largest remainder method with the Droop quota to allocate any surplus. Elections are run by the Independent Electoral Commission, and are held every five years, simultaneously with the elections to the National Assembly. Elections have been held in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009.
The legislature has the power to pass legislation in various fields enumerated in the national constitution; in some fields the legislative power is shared with the National Parliament, while in others it is reserved to the province. The fields include such matters as health, education (except universities), agriculture, housing, environmental protection, and development planning. In fields outside the power of the North West Provincial Legislature, it may recommend legislation to the National Assembly.
The North West Provincial Legislature may also enact a constitution for that province, if two-thirds of the members vote in favour. The powers of the North West Provincial Legislature are bound only by the national constitution and the provincial constitution (if one exists). There is no provincial Constitution in the North West so it is bound by the national Constitution.