After extensive multi-party negotiations, a new interim constitution was agreed to, and came into effect on 27 April 1994. That interim constitution effects radical changes to the political and legislative structure and system of South Africa. Some of its most significant features are summarised below -
Every South African citizen over the age of 18 years is qualified to vote.
7.2. Fundamental rights
The constitution sets out a number of fundamental rights which override any other legal provision. This is the equivalent of a Bill of Rights. A Constitutional Court is created which will have the power to decide disputes regarding the constitution, and in particular will apply those fundamental rights which are enforceable.
Legislative authority vests in a new parliament which consists of two houses. The National Assembly consists of 400 members elected under a proportional representation system. The Senate is composed of 10 members from each of the nine provinces, elected by members of the provincial legislatures.
7.4. Constitutional Assembly
It is intended that a new, final constitution will be negotiated and agreed by June 1996, by a Constitutional Assembly made up of the members of the National Assembly and the Senate, sitting in joint session. In drafting the new constitution, that Constitutional Assembly is obliged to comply with basic constitutional principles set out in the interim constitution.
7.5. Executive power
Executive power vests in a President, who is elected by the National Assembly. There are two executive deputy presidents, and a Cabinet is responsible for individual portfolios.
7.6. Provincial government
Each of the 9 provinces has a provincial legislature, elected by residents of the province on a proportional representation basis. Executive power in each province vests in the Premier, who works with an Executive Council appointed by him. The interim constitution contains a schedule of matters over which the provincial legislatures have power, so that there are significant elements of a federal system in the new constitutional structure of South Africa.
7.7. Local governments
Local governments are established for residents of particular areas. These have been elected democratically in seven of the provinces. Elections in the other two will be held later in 1996.
7.8. South African Reserve Bank
The South African Reserve Bank is designated as the central bank of South Africa. It is regulated by its own statute and is independent of the government.
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Werksmans Chambers, 22 Girton Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193
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The Act has brought about fundamental changes in the manner in which shareholder resolutions are passed.
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