Chapter 3

Co-operative government

This chapter lays down the principles of co-operative government. It states that there is one central government that is divided into three spheres: national, provincial and local. Each sphere is autonomous, and all three spheres have to work together. Previously, the government was organised in such a manner that allocated whole functions of power to one level of government, which was unwise, as other levels of government may have wanted to have a say. 

Overall the Constitution gives the three different levels of government common areas of responsibility but also defines their distinct responsibilities. Chapter 3 provides that the different levels of government have to work together and coordinate things such as budgets, policies and activities, particularly those that cut across all the spheres. Particularly, chapter 3 states that all spheres of government must-

  • Keep the peace and national unity of South Africa 
  • Look after the well-being of the people of South Africa
  • Be effective, transparent and accountable to the Republic as a whole
  • Be loyal to the Constitution and to South Africa 
  • Respect the status, institutions, powers and functions of government in other areas 
  • Not take on powers that the Constitution does not give them  
  • Use their powers and perform their functions in a way that does not interfere with government in another area 
  • Cooperate with each other by assisting, supporting, consulting with each other on things of common interest


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994