Section 43 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 allocates the
national legislative authority to Parliament. The Constitutional Court
acknowledged in the Certification of the Constitution of the RSA, 1996 judgment
that the South African application of the doctrine will be unique, because there is
“no universal model of the separation of powers”.
Each branch of government has a different role to play during the legislative
process. Political steering can be defined as “the intentional intervention of
political actors in legal subsystems including the legislative system”. Executive
political steering can be a useful tool for cooperation, but when taken too far,
could infringe on the doctrine of the separation of power.
From the case studies, it was evident that executive political steering can be a twoedged
sword. On face value, it may seem as if the executive is intervening, albeit
by using the departmental experts and specialists, to ensure that their vision for
legislation remains largely intact. When Bills are accepted “as is” from the
Executive, and without substantially interrogating each proposal, the Portfolio
Committees and Parliament are not exercising their authority to the fullest extent.
However, it is accepted that there is an acute shortage of legislative drafters, and
that national departments employ content specialists. Parliamentarians cannot be
specialists in all the fields that they have to legislate on, and it is not cost-effective
to replicate the national department’s structures in Parliament to provide such
expertise to the members.