‘Reconceptualising the Separation of Powers: Arguments for the Formal Constitutional Recognition of a Fourth Branch of State, “the Integrity Branch”’

The South African Constitutional Court has emphasised the significance of our ‘uniquely South African model of the separation of powers’. But this does not account for 'ombud-like' institutions such as the Public Protector, and Human Rights Commission, and the National Prosecuting Authority. These bodies exercise vital public powers and functions and serve as ‘checks’ against abuses of state power. But they too need checking. There is thus is a disjuncture between the arguably anachronistic conception of the separation of powers, and the actual exercise and checking of power in our modern system of government. The considers recent case law of the Court to illustrate the impact that these institutions are having – but without the requisite guiding and legitimating framework. What is needed is the formal constitutional recognition of a 4th branch of state, the 'Integrity Branch,’ to ensure enhanced effectiveness of these institutions and the overarching democratic project.