At a Glance:

Government Portal

Year became a federation: 1996

Current constitution in force since: 1996

Constituent units: 9 provinces

Association of Municipal Governments

Head of State: President

Head of Government: President

Legislature:
Upper House: National Council of Provinces (NCOP) 

Lower House: National Assembly

South Africa

South Africa

Our work in South Africa

Since 2006 the Forum and its local partners in South Africa have worked together to organize learning events ranging from an international roundtable on local government to the role of South Africa’s provinces in the country’s governance structure.

Federalism in South Africa

By the end of the 19th century, black African tribes such as the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana had been pushed of their lands by Dutch settlers and British colonial rulers. The South African war of 1899-1902, fought between the British and the Dutch, was won by Britain. This was followed by more than 90 years of minority white rule and apartheid government.


The anti-apartheid movement and the resistance of the African National Congress (ANC) finally wore down the whites-only government. The release of Nelson Mandela, the holding of multi-racial elections in 1994 and the enactment of a new constitution in 1996 ended apartheid and ushered in majority rule under an ANC-led government.


Federalism is not viewed with universal regard in South Africa, mainly because many in the ruling ANC believe that a strong central government, and not power-sharing with autonomous units, is necessary in order to consolidate the country’s reconstruction and development in the post-apartheid era. Others see federalism as providing an important check on the excesses of power by any government.


South Africa currently has a strong central government and robust local governments. Provinces are comparatively weaker depending on the central government for more than 95 percent of their revenues.


The political culture of the country is one that promotes “co-operative government” and avoids conflicts that arise in some federations in which competitive federalism is practiced.


forum@forumfed.org Return to Top Privacy Policies