Structure and functions of the South African Government

Government clusters
National Development Plan
Monitoring and evaluation
Inter-Ministerial Committees (IMCs)




South Africa is a constitutional democracy with a three-tier system of government and an independent judiciary. The national, provincial and local levels of government all have legislative and executive authority in their own spheres, and are defined in the Constitution as "distinctive, interdependent and interrelated".

Legislative authority

Parliament (national)

• National Assembly (350 – 400 members)
• National Council of Provinces (90 delegates)

Provincial Legislature (provincial)

Executive authority

Cabinet (national)

• President
• Deputy President
• Ministers

Provincial executive councils

• Premier
• Members of the Executive Council

Judicial authority

Courts including the:

• Constitutional Court
• Supreme Court of Appeal
• High courts
• Magistrate's courts

The Judicial Service Commission appoints judges.

State institutions supporting democracy

• Public Protector
• Human Rights Commission
• Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities
• Commission for Gender Equality
• Auditor-General of South Africa
• Independent Communications Authority of South Africa

Operating at both national and provincial levels are advisory bodies drawn from South Africa's traditional leaders. It is a stated intention in the Constitution that the country be run on a system of cooperative governance.

Government is committed to the building of a free, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and successful South Africa.

Government clusters

Clusters foster an integrated approach to governance that is aimed at improving government planning, decision making and service delivery. The main objective is to ensure proper coordination of all government programmes at national and provincial levels.

The main functions of the clusters are to ensure the alignment of government-wide priorities, facilitate and monitor the implementation of priority programmes and to provide a consultative platform on cross-cutting priorities and matters being taken to Cabinet.

The clusters of the Forum of South African Directors-General (Fosad) mirror the Ministerial clusters. The Fosad clusters provide technical support to the Ministerial clusters.

The Director-General in the Presidency is the chairperson of Fosad. Ministers had entered into delivery agreements with President Jacob Zuma, having to give progress reports on their departments’ set targets.

The 12 outcomes identified by government include:

  • improved quality of basic education
  • a long and healthy life for all South Africans
  • all people in South Africa are and feel safe
  • decent employment through inclusive economic growth
  • a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path
  • an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network
  • vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities with food security for all
  • sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life
  • a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system
  • environmental assets and natural resources that are well protected and continually enhanced
  • a better South Africa and contributing to a better and safer Africa and world
  • an efficient, effective and development-oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.

Economic Sectors, Employment, Infrastructure Development Cluster

The departments in this cluster are:

  • Rural Development and Land Reform (Chair)
  • Science and Technology (Deputy Chair)
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Communications
  • Economic Development
  • Finance
  • Higher Education and Training
  • Labour
  • Mineral Resources
  • Public Enterprises
  • Environmental Affairs
  • Transport
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Public Works
  • Human Settlements
  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  • Energy
  • Small Business Development
  • Telecommunications and Postal Services
  • Public Works
  • The Presidency: Planning, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.

Governance and Administration Cluster

The cluster deals with governance issues, including government’s Planning Framework, and the monitoring and evaluation of government’s performance. It is through this cluster where the government is able to monitor how various 14 policies’ interventions affect Persons with Disabilities, and what further interventions are necessary to enhance policy efficacy.

The departments in this cluster are:

  • Home Affairs (Chair)
  • Public Service and Administration (Deputy Chair)
  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  • Justice and Constitutional Development
  • Finance
  • The Presidency: Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration.

Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster

The departments in this cluster are:

  • Social Development (Chair)
  • Basic Education (Deputy Chair)
  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  • The Presidency: Women
  • Human Settlements
  • Labour
  • Public Works
  • Rural Development and Land Reform
  • Social Development
  • Transport
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Arts and Culture
  • Basic Education
  • Health
  • Higher Education and Training
  • Science and Technology

International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster

The departments in this cluster are:

  • Defence and Military Veterans (Chair)
  • Telecommunications and Postal Services (Chair)
  • International Relations and Cooperation (Deputy Chair)
  • International Relations and Cooperation
  • Finance
  • Trade and Industry
  • Tourism
  • Environmental Affairs
  • State Security.

Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster

  • Justice and Constitutional Development
  • Defence and Military Veterans (Chair)
  • Police (Deputy Chair)
  • Defence and Military Veterans
  • Home Affairs
  • State Security
  • Police
  • Correctional Services


The second National Imbizo Focus Week of the fifth democratic administration took place from 7 to 12 April 2015. The Imbizo Focus Weeks enable Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers and Members of Executive Councils (MECs) to interact closely with communities in different parts of the country.

The main focus of the Imbizo Focus Week was to afford political principals from all three spheres of government an opportunity to unpack the pronouncements made by the President during the State of the Nation Address on the 12th February 2015.

The focus week also served as a platform to enhance partnerships and increase active participation between government, the citizens, private sector, civil society, organised labour, sectoral groups, faith-based organisations and the media.

From 30 November to 6 December 2015, another National Imbizo Focus Week was held and it coincided with the Parliamentary Constituency Week as well as fall within the dedicated 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children period.

National Development Plan (NDP) 2030

The NDP is South Africa’s socio-economic policy blueprint that focuses, among other things, on:
• eliminating poverty by reducing the proportion of households with a monthly income below R419 per person from 39% to zero and the reduction of inequality
• increasing employment from 13 million in 2010 to 24 million by 2030
• broadening the country’s ownership of assets by historically disadvantaged groups
• ensuring that all children have at least two years of pre-school education and that all children can read and write by Grade 3
• providing affordable access to healthcare
• ensuring effective public transport.

Monitoring and evaluation

Institutional Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (IPME)

IPME monitors the quality of management practices in government departments through the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT).

The Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring programme of IPME is responsible for designing and implementing hands-on service delivery monitoring activities with offices of the Premier and for setting up and supporting the implementation of citizens-based monitoring systems.

The Presidential Hotline is also located in this branch.

Inter-Ministerial Committees (IMCs)

The February 2015 Extended Cabinet Lekgotla approved the establishment of an IMC, led by the Deputy President, and comprising the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Finance, Energy, Transport, Telecommunications and Postal Services and of Water and Sanitation to promote the prioritisation of state entities including South African Airways.

In April 2015, the President appointed an IMC on Migration. The IMC comprises of the Minister in The Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; Minister of Police( Deputy Chairperson); Minister of Home Affairs; Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; Minister of Social Development; Minister of Health; Minister of Basic Education; Minister of State Security; Minister of Justice and Correctional Services; Minister of Small Business Development; Minister of Trade and Industry; and Minister of Human Settlements.

The mandate of this IMC was to broaden in order to deal with all the underlying causes of the tensions between communities and foreign nationals.

Some that are being addressed by the IMC include the implementation of South Africa’s labour relations policies as they affect some foreign nationals; the implementation of the laws that govern business licenses; the country‘s border management and the country’s migration policies.

The IMC on anti-poverty, which is ALSO headed by the Deputy President, played a critical role in coordinating multiple stakeholders.

It also worked to build partnerships outside of government.

Short-term IMCs

The President also established the following short-term IMCs dedicated to organising certain high-level events:

In April 2016, the President appointed an IMC on the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Soweto Student Uprising.

The IMC was tasked with ensuring the planning and success of the momentous occasion.

The members of the IMC comprised the following ministers:
• Minister in The Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation as Chairperson
• Minister of Arts and Culture
• Minister of Basic Education
• Minister of Communications
• Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
• Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
• Minister of Higher Education
• Minister of Home Affairs
• Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
• Minister of Police
• Minister of Public Works
• Minister of State Security
• Minister of Water and Sanitation
• The Premier of the Gauteng Provincial Government, and
• The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg

In May 2016, an IMC on the 21st International AIDS Conference was appointed. Its members were:

• Minister in The Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation as Chairperson
• Minister in The Presidency for Women, Ms Susan Shabangu
• Minister of Arts and Culture
• Minister of Tourism
• Minister of Communications
• Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
• Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
• Minister of Health
• Minister of Home Affairs
• Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
• Minister of Police
• Minister of Public Works
• Minister of Social Development
• Minister of Sports and Recreation
• Minister of State Security
• Minister of Transport
• Premier of KwaZulu-Natal
• Executive Mayor of eThekwini.

Source: South Africa Yearbook 2015/16

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