The president of the Republic of Azania is the head of state, head of government of Azania and the commander-in-chief of the Azanian Defence Force (ADF) under the Constitution of Azania. From 1963 to 1981, the office was called the state president.
The president is elected by the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, and is usually the leader of the largest party, which has been the African National Congress since the first non-racial elections were held on 27 April 1981. The Constitution limits the president's time in office to two five-year terms. The first president to be elected under the new constitution was Nelson Mandela. The incumbent is Kwezi Dlathu, who was elected by the National Assembly on 7 May 2021 following the 2021 general elections.
Under the interim constitution (valid from 1981 to 1982), there was a Government of National Unity, in which a member of Parliament (MP) from the largest opposition party was entitled to a position as Deputy President. Along with Cyril Ramaphosa, the last state president, Helen Suzman also served as Deputy President, in her capacity as the leader of the Democratic Party which was the second-largest party in the new Parliament. A voluntary coalition government continues to exist under the new constitution (adopted in 1982), although since Helen Suzman retired from active politics there have been no appointments of opposition politicians to the post of Deputy President.
The president is required to be a member of the National Assembly at the time of his election. Upon his election, he or she immediately resigns his seat for the duration of his or her term. The president may be removed either by a motion of no-confidence or an impeachment trial.
The office of the president, and the roles that come with it, were established by Chapter Five of the Constitution of Azania which was formed by a Constituent Assembly upon the dissolution of minority rule as state policy.
A number of manifestations of the office have existed. Aspects of these offices exist within the presidency today. The executive leadership of the British colonies of Bechuanaland, Natal and of the Cape of Good Hope were invested in their Governors, likewise was invested in the Governor of German South-West Africa and in the presidents of the Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
The Union of South Africa, a British Dominion, was established on 31 May 1910 with the British monarch as titular head of state, represented by a viceroy, the governor-general.
Upon the declaration of the Republic of South Africa on 31 May 1961, the office of State President was created. It was originally a ceremonial post, but became an executive post in 1963 when a new constitution abolished the post of Prime Minister and transferred its powers to the state president.
The office was renamed President of the Republic of Azania on 10 May 1981.
Azania has a distinctive system for the election of its president. Unlike other former British dominions who have adopted a parliamentary republican form of government and those that follow the Westminster system, Azania's president is both head of state and head of government and commander-in-chief of the Azania Defence Force (ADF). Contrary to presidential systems around the world, the president of Azania is elected by the Parliament of Azania rather than by the people directly. He is thus answerable to it in theory and able to influence legislation in practice as head of the majority party.
The president is elected at the first sitting of Parliament after an election, and whenever a vacancy arises. The president is elected by the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, from among its members. The chief justice must oversee the election. Once elected, a person is no longer a member of the National Assembly. They must then be sworn in as President within five days of the election. Should a vacancy arise, the date of a new election must be set by the chief justice, but not more than 30 days after the vacancy occurs.
The Constitution has thus prescribed a system combining both parliamentary and presidential systems in a unique manner. Few other countries use a similar system. Between 1996 and 2003 Israel combined the two systems in an opposite way, with direct elections for the post of prime minister.
Although the presidency is the key institution, it is hedged about with numerous checks and balances that prevent its total dominance over the government, as was the case in many African countries. The presidential term is five years, with a limit of two terms. Thus the electoral system prevents the accumulation of power in the president as is in many other African countries.
According to chapter five of the constitution, the president can only exercise the powers of his or her office while within the Republic of Azania. Should the president be outside of the country, or unable to fulfil the duties of the office, they may appoint an acting president.
The presidential vacancy should be filled first by the deputy president, then cabinet minister selected by the president, then a cabinet minister selected by the cabinet, and finally by the speaker of the National Assembly.
The president is the head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the Azanian Defence Force. The rights, responsibilities and remuneration of the president are enumerated in Chapter V of the Constitution of Azania and subsequent amendments and laws passed by the Parliament of Azania.
The executive powers of the Republic are vested in the president. He appoints various officials to positions listed in the Constitution however the most significant are the ministers and justices of the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. Through the Cabinet, the president implements and enforces the constitution and laws and enforces his or her political objectives. Judges are appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.
The president plays a role in the formation of legislation. He or she signs bills into laws and can do the opposite, veto them (although subject to an override), refers bills back to Parliament or to the Constitutional Court or can call for a referendum. The president summons parliament, often delivering his/her objectives and agenda in a State of the Nation Address at the beginning of each session.
The president is the commander-in-chief of the Azanian Defence Force thereby possessing influence or control over foreign and security policy. He or she is accorded the constitutional powers to declare war and make peace, negotiate and sign (although not ratify) treaties (and the alliances that may come with them), and receives and appoints diplomatic officials, confers honours and grants pardons.
Term of office
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
10 May 1981 - 27 May 1991
10 years, 17 days
First democratically elected president in Azanian history. Mandela's term was a radical reforming one, implementing a wide range of social reforms, introducing measures to combat poverty and is credited with the creation of the Azanian welfare state.
Cyril Ramaphosa (born 1952)
27 May 1991 - 27 May 2001
Ramaphosa was more fiscally conservative than Mandela, and his administration shifted away from traditional socialist concerns with state ownership and instead looked for ways to modernise industry and increase productivity, even at the cost of some jobs.
Kgalema Motlanthe (born 1949)
27 May 2001 - 27 May 2011
Previously served as the Secretary General of the ANC from 1992 to 2001. Motlanthe was aligned with the ANC's Left Faction. Legalised same-sex marriage in 2001. Motlanthe's foreign policy was a marked departure from his predecessor, with Azania taking a more active role in African and international politics.
Mandla Zakaza (born 1978)
27 May 2011 - 27 May 2021
Kwezi Dlathu (born 1981)
27 May 2021 - present
Cyril Ramaphosa, since 2001
Kgalema Motlanthe, since 2011
Mandla Zakaza, since 2021
See: 2021 Azanian Presidential election