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 authorityParliament (national)

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

Provincial Legislature (provincial)Executive authorityCabinet (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
• 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's 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 clusters are to ensure the alignment of government wide priorities, facilitate and monitor the implementation of priority programmes and 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 educationa long and healthy life for all South Africansall people in South Africa are and feel safedecent employment through inclusive economic growtha skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth pathan efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure networkvibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities with food security for allsustainable human settlements and improved quality of household lifea responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government systemenvironmental assets and natural resources that are well protected and continually enhanceda better South Africa and contributing to a better and safer Africa and worldan 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 FisheriesCommunicationsEconomic DevelopmentFinanceHigher Education and TrainingLabourMineral ResourcesPublic EnterprisesEnvironmental AffairsTransportWater and SanitationPublic WorksHuman SettlementsCooperative Governance and Traditional AffairsEnergySmall Business DevelopmentTelecommunications and Postal ServicesPublic WorksThe Presidency: Planning, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.