Historically, the four provinces—Cape, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State—dealt chiefly with local matters, such as hospitals, roads, municipal government, and educational matters that can be classified as general affairs (applying to all population groups). The provinces receive annual subsidies from the national government. Elected provincial councils were abolished in 1986 and replaced by regional services councils, with representation by local authorities. Executive power in each province is exercised by an administrator and executive committee appointed by the state president and responsible to the national government.
Under the 1984 constitution, local government was to be assigned to the three parliamentary houses, as applicable, or, in regard to general affairs, to the Department of Constitutional Development and Planning. However, residents in each (segregated) residential area, including blacks, elected primary local authorities, who rendered certain services as well as represented their constituents at the provincial level. As far as local government and administration for whites were concerned, elected municipal councils were retained. The local affairs of blacks living in the six black homelands within the Republic of South Africa were administered by the respective homeland governments.
Under the post-1994 election arrangements, nine provincial governments were established (Northern Province, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, and North-West). Their legislatures were determined (in size and party representation) by proportional representation. The actual distribution of governmental powers and responsibilities has to be worked out by the constituent assembly.
A transitional local government arrangement prevails. The 1995 local election results were as follows: ANC, 76.66%; NP, 18.58%; FF, 2.36%. The remaining few parties, including the Inkatha Freedom Party, split the remainder of the votes. There were 5.3 million valid votes cast and 12.7 million registered voters.