Whether you’re browsing through the government gazette online (through databases like Sabinet) or paging through the ink-and-paper hardcopies, one can’t help but be impressed at the sheer amount of information that is published in the government gazette in South Africa.
Many different types of proclamations are made in these publications, as well as everything that the government does. In a democracy, this is crucial to the openness and transparency of government actions, giving the public the resources and time they need to lodge a complaint against any government actions they see as being undesirable, before these are set in stone.
Section 16 of the Interpretation Act dictates that all laws, regulations, rules and orders which are authorised by South African Law, to be made by the presidency, a premier of a province or a member of a province’s executive council, must first be published in the government gazette of South Africa.
There is, however, one exception to this rule, as outlined in section 16A of the Interpretation Act. If the president of South Africa believes that the publication of the government gazette is being seriously limited or has stalled altogether, for reasons outside of the control of the government printer, he may make proclamations by some other method of publication (for example, in a newspaper) for the period until the gazette’s publication is re-started.
The Law Making Process
After a bill is presented to the national assembly or the National Council of Provinces, it must then be published in the government gazette of South Africa to officially inform citizens of the intended law-passing, and to provide an opportunity for public comment. After that, it is debated by a committee and amended if necessary. These processes have much to do with the kind of feedback that was provided by the public, thanks to the government gazette publication.
The next step is for the bill to be submitted to a sitting of the house for further discussion, and for a vote to be taken on whether the bill should be signed into law. The final step is for the bill to be submitted from one house to the other for concurrence (to see whether both houses agree on the proposed law). It then goes to the president himself for approval.
The thorough consideration and planning that goes into South Africa’s law-making systems are some of the most important aspects of a true democracy – proving just how important the government gazette is in the daily lives of all South Africans.
Image credit: http://ibn.co.za/interactive-session-for-immigration-practitioners-with-the-department-of-home-affairs/