South Africa is a republic with an executive president. The constitution of 1997 provides for a federal state, a bill of rights, universal adult suffrage, regular multi-party elections and recognition of traditional leaders, languages and institutions supporting human rights.

The president is both head of state and government. The president is elected by the National Assembly and can serve a maximum of two five-year terms. The deputy president and cabinet are appointed by the president.

The bicameral parliament consists of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly has 400 seats elected by popular vote for five years, under a system of proportional representation. The National Council of Provinces has 90 seats, with 10 members elected for five years by each of the nine provincial legislatures. Half of the members of the National Assembly are chosen from nationwide party lists, the other half from party lists for each province.

The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law. The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court of Appeal, the High Court and the magistrates’ courts.

The Supreme Court of Appeal, in Bloemfontein, is presided over by a president, and is supreme in all matters except those relating to the constitution, which together with human rights cases are the responsibility of the Constitutional Court, in Johannesburg. Judges are appointed by the president of the republic with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.