Executive Branch Reform: Interim Constitution Accord

"Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993, Chapter 6, Section 75 Executive authority of the Republic:

The executive authority of the Republic with regard to all matters falling within the legislative competence of Parliament shall vest in the President, who shall exercise and perform his or her powers and functions subject to and in accordance with this Constitution.

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993, Chapter 6, Section 76 Head of State:

The President shall be the Head of State.

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993, Chapter 6, Section 77 Election of President:

(1)(a) The National Assembly shall at its first sitting after it has been convened in terms of Section 46 (2) elect one of its members as the President.

(b) The National Assembly and the Senate shall thereafter, as often as it again becomes necessary to elect a President, elect at a joint sitting one of the members of the National Assembly as the President.

(2)(a) The Chief Justice, or a judge of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice for this purpose, shall preside over any sitting at which an election referred to in Subsection (1) takes place.

(b) An election referred to in Subsection (1) shall be conducted in accordance with Schedule 5.

(3) The election of a President in terms of Subsection (1)(b) shall take place at a time and on a date fixed by the Chief Justice: Provided that:

(a) if such an election of a President is occasioned by reason of a dissolution of Parliament, it shall take place within 10 days after the Senate was convened after the election of the National Assembly held in pursuance of such dissolution; or

(b) if such an election of a President is occasioned by reason of a vacancy in the office of President, it shall take place within 30 days after the vacancy arose.

(4) On being elected, the President shall vacate his or her seat in the National Assembly.

(5) During the period in which the President continues in office in terms of Section 80 (1)(b), he or she shall for the purposes of Section 42 (1)(e) be deemed not to hold an office of profit under the Republic.

Implementation History

1993

No Implementation

A serious debate on executive branch reform took place resulting in the CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) Record of Understanding. This agreement, signed on September 26, 1992, addressed the details of a transitional government of national unity during the transitional period.

The Interim Constitution was signed on November 17, 1993. The white-dominated parliament voted to approve a new democratic constitution on December 22, 1993. The vote tally was 247 to 45.1 The interim constitution, in Section 75, established that executive power is to be vested in the President. The former is elected by the National Assembly by member majority. Section 84 has a provision for the Executive Deputy President. According to the provisions, “Every party holding at least 80 seats in the National Assembly shall be entitled to designate an Executive Deputy President from among the members of the National Assembly”. According to the constitutional provisions, if no party holds at least 80 seats, “parties holding the largest number of seats and the party holding the second largest numbers of seats shall each be entitled to designate one Executive Deputy President from among the members of the National Assembly”.

According to Section 88, a party holding 20 or more seats in the parliament was entitled to receive one or more of the cabinet portfolios.

The executive branch reform as stipulated in the interim constitution of 1993, however, was not implemented in year 1993. These reforms were set to be implemented after holding constituent assembly elections.

  • 1. "South Africa gets democratic constitution Parliamentarians of all races approve non-racial law while Afrikaners hold out for whites-only concessions," The Globe and Mail (Canada), December 23, 1993.
1994

Intermediate Implementation

The Constituent Assembly election took place in April 1994. The Government of National Unity, a constitutionally-defined multi-party government, came into existence after the 1994 elections. The 1993 constitution had provisions for the Government of National Unity. Six ministers from the National Party were appointed in the cabinet, including former State President Mr. de Klerk, who was appointed as second Deputy President.2 Inkatha Freedom Party also shared cabinet portfolio.

  • 2. "A look at those who also serve in Mandela's South Africa," The Age (Melbourne, Australia), May 14, 1994.
1995

Intermediate Implementation

The Executive Branch reform stipulated in the interim constitution of 1993 was implemented through the transitional government that was established after the April 1994 elections.

1996

Full Implementation

Powersharing provision in the interim constitution (deputy president after security 80 seats and a cabinet position after securing 20 seats) were taken out from the final constitution. Once the National Assembly adopted the final constitution on May 8, 1996, the National Party announced its withdrawal from the Government of National Unity by the end of June 1996.3 The Constitutional Court (CC) approved the final constitution on December 4, 1996.

  • 3. "South Africa," Keesing's Record of World Events (Volume 42), 1996, 41078.
1997

Full Implementation

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa took effect on February 4, 1997, without provisions of sharing executive power as stipulated in the 1993 interim constitution. Nevertheless, the National Assembly elects the President from among its members.

1998

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.