The role of the legislature in promoting the integration of the South Africa in political system.

Master Thesis


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The dissertation asserts that South Africa is a divided society where cleavages of class, race and ethnicity exist due to the proliferation of particularised identity formation under the systems of apartheid and colonisation. Despite the process of democratisation in 1994 the possibilities of political parties reflecting these cleavages are high, leading to identity mobilisation and system instability. Instead, South Africa has experienced an overlapping of class, race and ethnicity where mobilisation of particular identities is slight, which has resulted in a degree of stability within the political system. An explanation is required to understand the increasing integrating tendencies within the political system as a whole. The study will argue that the political system promotes system integration and therefore societal integration because of post-apartheid institutional arrangements. Institutional arrangements that enhance political integration can be located within the legislature, known as the National Assembly in South Africa, and include the PR electoral system and party representivity and secondly, the role of minority parties in the legislative process. South Africa is used as an illustrative case to evaluate the relationship between the legislature and integration of the political system. A process of political integration is an essential condition for the future stability of South African political system. The theoretical framework establishes the relationship between the legislature and political integration. The concept of political integration and associated aspects like interest articulation and aggregation as functions of the legislature are utilised. The pluralist approach explains how societal conflicts manifest themselves as groups with various identities and interests. The pluralist perspective also shows how divided societies challenge political integration due to resultant societal conflict. The neo-institutionalist approach aids the investigation of the legislature in order to evaluate its role in the integration of the political system. ii The importance of, and challenges to, political integration in South Africa are discussed by examining the divided nature of the society. The constructionist approach is used as an explanatory tool to consider the causative factors of South Africa's societal divisions. The legislature is evaluated by focusing on two research areas: The inclusive formal representation of all societal groups in the form of political parties within the legislature; and the degree of influence afforded to the represented political parties at the decision-making level where disparate demands can be channeled, given expression and some degree of persuasion. The first indicator deals with the electoral system and its effects on political inclusivity for parties within the legislature. Secondly, the electoral system is examined to assess whether it allows for electorate inclusivity. Slating procedures and activities of political Parties; are discussed, to illustrate politically inclusive behaviour. Lastly, the nature of the party system contributes to the study as it affects how politically inclusive the political arena is. These focal points reflect the various ways that the legislature can promotes political integration. The second indicator focuses on the decision-making level of the legislature. The committee system and its implications for political inclusivity are examined by focusing on its structural and procedural elements and its powers. Secondly, House Rules and Procedures are investigated to measure the opportunities for parties to influence the legislative process. Thirdly, the skill of opposition parties impacts on their ability to be influential at this level. Finally, the role of the representative and his relationship with the electorate is discussed.