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South African Law

Making South African Federal Legislation

National bills usually emanate from government departments. Bills may result from consultation through the publishing of green papers (discussion documents) and white papers (cabinet approved policy documents). Draft bills may be published in the Government Gazette for public comment and then referred to the relevant portfolio committee. Bills are published as a separate series to draft bills - bills may undergo several amendments as a result of discussion in the portfolio committee or select committee before final adoption and presentation to Parliament. Bills are normally introduced into the lower house - the National Assembly. To become a law, bills must be considered by and pass both Houses of Parliament, National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Once passed by both Houses, bills must receive the assent of the President to become law. Following assent they are published in the Government Gazette as Acts of Parliament.

For a concise and helpful overview of the national legislative process see How a Law is Made on the Parliament website.

On this page:

Finding Bills

  • The official website of the South African Government provides the official versions of the full text of draft bills (from July 1997 to current) and bills as introduced (from 1996 to current). Bills and Draft bills can be browsed by date or searched by keyword. 
  • Polity - this site includes the full text of  bills since 1995. Although a non-government site, the links to the bills are often to the official Government Gazette versions. The site has far better searching and browsing capabilities than the government sites - it can be browsed by year and/or topic, and has fairly sophisticated search capabilities. Note that to browse years prior to 2016, you need to select a topic first.
  • The official website of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa provides the full text of bills since 1998, as well as bill status lists. 

Finding Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) 

The official website of the Parliament of South Africa includes the Hansards of both Houses from June 1999 to current. 

Finding Green and White Papers and Other Parliamentary Documents

  • The Documents pages on the official website of the South African Government includes the full text of white papers (from Nov 1994 to current) and green papers (from April 1995 to current), as well as other documents such as Annual Reports, Statistical Documents, Documents for Public Comment and Parliamentary Documents.
  • The official website of the Parliament of South Africa includes selected full text Parliamentary Papers from 2001 to current.

Finding South African Government Gazettes 

All bills and Acts as passed are published in the official Government Gazette. This is not available online on open access and we do not subscribe to it. However, many of the links to Acts and bills from the open access sites listed above are to the official Gazette versions. 

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