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Government & Religion

SA Fact File

The Constitution is the supreme law of the country. The Preamble to the Constitution states that its aims are to: heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights; improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law; and build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

Parliament consists of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Parliamentary sittings are open to the public. The National Assembly consists of no fewer than 350 members and no more than 400 members, elected through a system of proportional representation for a five year term. It elects the President and scrutinises the Executive. The National Council of Provinces consists of 54 permanent members and 36 special delegates, and aims to represent provincial interests in the national sphere of government.

According to the constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. Almost 80% of South Africa’s population are Christian. Other major religions include the Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faiths. A minority of South Africa’s population do not belong to any of the major religions, but regard themselves as traditionalists of no specific religious affiliation.

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