Constitutions in transition
Constitutions in transition

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Constitutions in transition

2.3.1 The first post-apartheid parliament

The Interim Constitution also detailed the conditions for qualification as a Member of Parliament, the composition of parliamentary chambers, and the rules on sittings and voting on matters before Parliament.

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Figure 5 Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

The Interim Constitution made clear that two chambers (the National Assembly and the Senate) constitute the South African Parliament. Members of the National Assembly were elected on the basis of proportional representation, highlighting the closeness and fairness of the democracy that a post-apartheid South Africa was attempting to achieve. The Senate, on the other hand, was composed of ten senators from each province, nominated by the legislatures of each province. This attested to the desire to have a three-tiered legislative framework operating throughout South Africa, where national, provincial, and local governance are considered fundamentally interdependent.

Chapter 6 of the Interim Constitution provided for the position of the National Executive in the governance of South Africa. The President, as head of state – elected as he or she is by the National Assembly and Senate – is, according to the Interim Constitution, ‘responsible for the observance of the provisions of [the] Constitution by the executive and shall as head of state defend and uphold the Constitution as the supreme law of the land’ and will ‘with dignity provide executive leadership in the interest of national unity in accordance with this Constitution and the law of the Republic’ (s81). In other words, the President is one of the guardians of the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

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