Puneet Varma

Government of the Western Cape

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Government of the Western Cape

The Western Cape province of South Africa is governed in a parliamentary system in which the people elect the Provincial Parliament, and the parliament elects the Premier as head of the executive. The Premier leads a cabinet of provincial ministers overseeing various executive departments. The provincial government is subject to the Constitution of the Western Cape and the Constitution of South Africa, which together form the supreme law of the province.



The Western Cape Provincial Parliament, situated in Cape Town, is the legislative branch of the provincial government. The parliament is a unicameral legislature of 42 members, elected by a system of party-list proportional representation. An election is held every five years, conventionally at the same time as the election of the National Assembly. In the election of 7 May 2014 the Democratic Alliance won a majority of 26 seats, the African National Congress won 14, and the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Christian Democratic Party each won one.


The Premier of the Western Cape is the head of the provincial government; he or she is chosen by the members of the provincial parliament from amongst themselves. The Premier chooses a cabinet of ministers to oversee the various departments of the provincial government. The Director-General is the non-political head of the provincial administration, while each government department is led by a Head of Department.

The current Premier is Helen Zille of the Democratic Alliance and the Director-General is Brent Gerber. Besides the Premier, the provincial cabinet consists of ten ministers overseeing twelve departments.


South Africa has a single national judiciary; there is no separate system of provincial courts. The Western Cape Division of the High Court of South Africa has jurisdiction over all cases arising in the province, but generally handles only the most serious or high-profile criminal trials, high-value civil trials, cases involving judicial review of legislation or executive actions, and appeals from the magistrates' courts. Judges of the High Court periodically go on circuit to hear cases in parts of the province distant from Cape Town. Appeals from the High Court are to the national Supreme Court of Appeal and ultimately (if a constitutional matter is involved) to the Constitutional Court.

The province is divided into 42 magisterial districts and 2 sub-districts, each of which is served by a district magistrate's court. There are a further 12 branch courts and 26 periodical courts to serve densely populated or geographically dispersed districts. These district courts have jurisdiction over all criminal cases except murder, rape and treason and can impose a fine of up to R100,000 or a prison sentence of up to three years; and they have jurisdiction over civil cases where the value of the claim is less than R100,000. The regional magistrate's court for the Western Cape, which sits at multiple locations in the province, has jurisdiction over all criminal cases except treason and can impose a fine of up to R300,000 or a prison sentence of up to fifteen years (or life in some circumstances). The regional court also has jurisdiction over civil cases where the value of the claim is less than R300,000, and divorce and family law cases.

Local government

The City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality is the local council for the Cape Town metropolitan area, which contains two-thirds of the province's population. The rest of the province is divided into five district municipalities which are subdivided into twenty-four local municipalities. The municipalities are listed below.

  • City of Cape Town
  • West Coast District Municipality: Matzikama Local Municipality, Cederberg Local Municipality, Bergrivier Local Municipality, Saldanha Bay Local Municipality, Swartland Local Municipality
  • Cape Winelands District Municipality: Witzenberg Local Municipality, Drakenstein Local Municipality, Stellenbosch Local Municipality, Breede Valley Local Municipality, Langeberg Local Municipality
  • Overberg District Municipality: Theewaterskloof Local Municipality, Overstrand Local Municipality, Cape Agulhas Local Municipality, Swellendam Local Municipality
  • Eden District Municipality: Kannaland Local Municipality, Hessequa Local Municipality, Mossel Bay Local Municipality, George Local Municipality, Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, Bitou Local Municipality, Knysna Local Municipality
  • Central Karoo District Municipality: Laingsburg Local Municipality, Prince Albert Local Municipality, Beaufort West Local Municipality
  • References

    Government of the Western Cape Wikipedia

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