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The President is the Head of State and governs with a Cabinet comprising Ministers and Deputy Ministers who head the various national government departments.
Each province is headed by a Premier and an Executive Council.
The provinces have a role in drafting national legislation through their participation in the National Council of Provinces, the second house of Parliament.
The National Assembly's Parliamentary Portfolio Committees and the National Council of Provinces' Select Committees oversee the work of the executive organs within the sphere of their portfolios and discuss proposed Bills in these areas.
As resistance to the apartheid regime intensified from the 1950's onwards, the South African government implemented legislation giving the state wide powers to detain, arrest, imprison and ban its opponents.
Successive states of emergency were proclaimed during the 1980's.
During the period of English governance, a system of 'Native Administration' was established.
According to this policy, indigenous people could rule themselves according to indigenous law in certain matters, for example rules of marriage and succession.
Although South Africa is a unitary state, the Constitution has elements of federalism, and the nine provinces (Eastern Cape; Free State, Gauteng, Kwa Zulu-Natal, Limpopo (previously called the Northern Province), Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and the Western Cape) may pass laws on certain matters such as education, health and housing.
The formal legal system is dominated by this European heritage.
Of course, most South Africans are not of European descent.
Today, South Africa retains a plural legal system, with customary law remaining a legal system for those who wish to be subject to it.
The rules of customary law may not, however, conflict with the South African Constitution.
Today, many commentators regard the resulting legal system as a truly hybrid system, a mix of English common law and civilian Roman-Dutch legal principles.