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Unlike other former British colonies and dominions who have adopted a parliamentary republican form of government and those that follow the Westminster system, South Africa's President is both head of state and head of government and Commander-in-Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Contrary to presidential systems around the world, the President of South Africa is elected by the Parliament of South Africa rather than by the people directly.

But De Klerk later resigned and went into opposition with his party.

A voluntary coalition government continues to exist under the new constitution (adopted in 1996), although there have been no appointments of opposition politicians to the post of Deputy President.

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 first president to be elected under the new constitution was Nelson Mandela, and the incumbent president is Jacob Zuma.

The Union of South Africa, a British Dominion, was established on and the head of state was invested in the apolitical and ceremonial Monarch of the United Kingdom (who was represented by a viceroy, the Governor-General).

Upon the declaration of South Africa as a republic on , the office of State President was created.

The president is elected by the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, from among its members. 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.

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