South Africa (Republic of South Africa) has a Bicameral parliament with the use of voluntary party quotas and legislated quotas at the sub-national level. 185 of 396 (47%) seats in the National Assembly are held by women.
At a glance
Structure of Parliament: Bicameral
Are there legislated quotas...
- For the Single/Lower House? No
- For the Upper House? No
- For the Sub-National Level? Yes
Are there voluntary quotas...
- Adopted by political parties? Yes
Is there additional information?...
Last updated: Jan 14, 2022
National Council of Provinces
|Quota Type||No legislated>|
|Election details||IPU Parline|
|Quota type: No legislated||Constitution|
|Legal sanctions for non-compliance||No data available|
|Rank order/placement rules||No data available|
Quota at the Sub-National Level
- Quota type: Legislated Candidate Quotas
|Quota type: Legislated Candidate Quotas||Constitution|
|Electoral law||In the elections for local councils, parties must seek to ensure that 50% of the candidates on the party list are women (Local Government Act, Schedule 1, Section 11 ; Schedule 2, Sections 5  & 17 ).|
|Legal sanctions for non-compliance||No||None|
|Rank order/placement rules||Local Government Act||In the elections for local councils, parties must seek to ensure that women and men candidates are evenly distributed through the candidate list (Local Government Act, Schedule 1, Section 11 ; Schedule 2, Sections 5  & 17 ).|
Voluntary Political Party Quotas*
|Party||Official name||Details, Quota provisions|
|African National Congress||[ANC]||In 2006 ANC adopted a 50% gender quota in local elections. The quota was extended to national elections as well in 2009. The party statute reads: 'the provision of a quota of not less than fifty percent of women in all elected structures' (ANC Constitution, Article 6 ). Currently, ANC has won 264 seats in the national assembly, little less than two-thirds majority.|
* Only political parties represented in parliament are included. When a country has legislated quotas in place, only political parties that have voluntary quotas that exceed the percentage/number of the national quota legislation are presented in this table.
The Municipal Structures Act 1998 required that parties “seek to ensure that 50% of the candidates on the party list are women, and that women and men candidates are evenly distributed though (sic) the list.” The weakness of this wording is that it encourages, but does not oblige parties to adopt a zebra system for the [proportional representation] seats, and places no obligation on them to field women candidates in the ward seats. The influence has been especially felt within the ANC.’ (SADC Gender Protocol 2011: 67) In 2011, women constituted 38 per cent of all representatives at the local level (SADC Gender Protocol 2011: 62).
At the national level, the Africa National Congress (ANC) remains the only party which practices voluntary party quotas, having first put in place a 30 per cent quota ahead of the parliamentary elections in 1994. In 2006, the ANC adopted a 50 per cent gender quota in local elections, and this was extended to national elections in 2009. The party statute stipulates ‘the provision of a quota of not less than 50% (fifty per cent) of women in all elected structures’ (ANC Constitution, Article 6 ). Currently, the ANC holds 264 seats in the National Assembly, a little less than a two-thirds majority. While it does not have explicit provisions for voluntary quotas, the party Congress of People (COPE), which was established in 2008 by the former ANC members, ensured that 50 per cent of its elected Members of Parliament were women (Gender Links 2009).
- Local Government Municipal Structures Act, no. 117 of 1998, accessed 24 April 2018;
- African National Congress (ANC) Constitution, as amended and adopted at the 54th National Conference, 2017, accessed 15 November 2019;
- Myakayaka-Manzini, Mavivi, ‘Political Party Quotas in South Africa’, in J. Ballington (ed.), The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences, Quota Report Series no. 3 (Stockholm: International IDEA, 2003), accessed 24 April 2018;
- EISA South Africa, ‘South Africa: Women’s Representation Quotas’, April 2009, accessed 24 April 2018;
- Gender Links, SADC Gender Protocol 2011 Barometer, accessed 04 April 2014
Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU Parline South Africa
- Hassim, Shireen. 2003. ‘Representation, Participation and Democratic Effectiveness: Feminist Challenges to Representative Democracy in South Africa’, in Anne Marie Goetz and Shireen Hassim (eds) No Shortcuts to Power: African Women in Politics. London: Zed Books.
- Ballington, J. 2002. ‘Political Parties, Gender Equality and Elections in South Africa’, in Glenda Fick, Sheila Meintjes and Mary Simons (eds), One Woman One Vote: The Gender Politics of South African Elections. EISA: Johannesburg.
- Molokomme 2000. ‘Building Inclusiveness in SADC's Democratic Systems: The Case of Women's Representation in Leadership Positions’, in Report of theSADC Elections Forum, June 2001, EISA.
- Yoon, M.Y. 2001. ‘Democratization and Women's Legislative Representation in Sub-Saharan Africa’ , in Democratization 8, no. 2. p. 169-190.
- Kethusegile, B. et al. 2000. Beyond Inequalities: Women in Southern Africa. Harare: SARDC.
- Khan, F. 2000. ‘Politics-South Africa: Number of Women Candidates Increases’, Interpress Service, December 1.
- Longwe, S. H. 2000. ‘Towards Realistic Strategies for Women's Political Empowerment in Africa’, in Women and Leadership. Caroline Sweetman (ed.). Oxford: Oxfam. pp. 24-30.
- Lowe-Morna, C. 2000. ‘Strategies for Increasing Women's Participation in Politics’, paper presented to the Fifth Meeting of Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for Women's Affairs.
- Msimang, S. 2000. ‘Affirmative Action in the New South Africa: The Politics of Representation, Law and Equity’, Women in Action, no. 1. p. 36.
- Ballington, J. 1999. The Participation of Women in South Africa's First Democratic Election: Lessons From the Past and Recommendations for the Future. Auckland Park: Electoral Institute of South Africa (occasional paper).
- Ballington, J. 1998. ‘Women's Parliamentary Representation: The Effects of List PR’, Politikon, Vol. 25, No. 2, December.
- Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1997. Democracy Still in the Making: A World Comparative Study. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.
- Mutume, G. 1997. ‘South Africa-Human Rights: Quotas for Women Under Scrutiny’, Interpress Service, September 26.
- South Africa Parliament website, http://www.parliament.gov.za