The Directorate: Intergovernmental and Provincial Protocol from the Branch:
State Protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs has compiled this Manual
from different official sources found in the archives of the Department as well as
Many South African Missions have also contributed to the contents. This Manual
covers simplified and abridged aspects of international Protocol, etiquette and
entertainment presented in such a way as to satisfy the needs of all the different
stakeholders of this Directorate. Other Manuals have been prepared regarding
the Protocol and etiquette of various cultures, usages and traditions of foreign
Protocol and etiquette, as practised today, have a very deep and rich history and
is of a background, which is embedded in almost all cultures and traditions of
most countries, including South Africa and most African countries. Most countries
and continents have in some way or another contributed to the evolvement of
Protocol and etiquette as it is practised today.
This Protocol and etiquette is recognised by the Presidency of South Africa and is
practised daily by the Presidency of South Africa, the Department of Foreign
Affairs and all other role-players in the Provinces and Local Governments.
These traditions and usages, which follow, are used internationally and the
official South African Protocol and etiquette are largely based on some traditional
and common usages as they are obeyed and recognised by the present South
The majority of countries use these examples of Protocol and etiquette.
This Manual will hopefully empower you regarding the broad parameters of
Protocol and etiquette as practised in South Africa and internationally.
It is eventually up to the individual whether he or she wants to follow it to the
hilt. In essence, these are guidelines for you to follow.
COMPILED BY THE BRANCH: STATE PROTOCOL
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Copyright © DFA 2005
1 The Constitution of South Africa 4
2 Some observations regarding protocol and etiquette 17
3 Introduction: Diplomatic Relations: The Diplomat 18
4 Protocol: A historic background 20
5 Synopsis of International Protocol 29
6 The Ambassador/High Commissioner as Head of Mission 30
7 National days of Diplomatic Missions in South Africa 34
8 Official Table of precedence in South Africa 36
9 Invitations to dinners/lunches and functions 42
10 Dress code 46
11 Guest status and State gifts 49
12 Protocol when invited by a Head of State 53
13 Introducing people to each other 56
14 Cardinal rules regarding the movement of VIP’s 58
15 Forms of address 59
16 General information 62
17 Cellular telephones 63
18 Smoking 65
19 Office management and etiquette 67
20 Office protocol and client care 72
21 South African flag and anthem 78
22 Cultural differences one may encounter 91
23 Major world religions and their customs 102
24 Twinning Agreements 104
25 International Agreements 109
26 Official Entertainment 123
27 Directorate : Intergovernmental & Provincial Protocol 141
INTRODUCTION TO THE CONSTITUTION (Act 108 of 1996)
WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTION?
The Constitution is the supreme or highest law of South Africa.
The President, the Government and all the people of South Africa must follow
The Constitution prescribes what the structures of Government are and what
powers they have.
It makes sure that your rights are protected and set up Institutions to check
that Government does not abuse your rights.
All other laws in the country must follow the Constitution. However, the
Constitution does not replace these other laws; instead, it sets out the
, which they must follow.
It is like the foundations of a house. The walls, windows, doors and roof of
the house are like the other laws. When you build a house, what the house
looks like will depend on what the foundations are. So too, all the other laws
in the country depend on what the Constitution stipulates.
The Constitution is also much harder to change than other laws. Parliament can
usually change other written laws if more than 50% of the Members of
Parliament who are present support the change. This is also sometimes called a
simple majority. The Constitution needs a much higher percentage vote to
change it. To do so, at least two-thirds (66 2/3%) of the Members of Parliament
must agree to the changes.
Because the rules in the Constitution are hard to change, it means that future
Governments have to follow these rules too. The rules stay the same even if the
Government changes. In this way, the Constitution helps to make sure there will
always be democracy in South Africa.
WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?
Democracy is one of the ways of governing a country. It is based on the idea
that everyone in a country should have a say about how the country is run.
However, because it is not possible for everyone to be in Parliament, people
choose other people to represent them in Parliament and to make decisions for
them. These people are chosen during an election when people vote for those
whom they believe can best represent them.
WHY WE NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION?
The Constitution is not the first South African Constitution. There have been four
Constitutions in South Africa before.
Before democratic elections could be held in April 1994, a different Constitution
had to be written. This was the Interim Constitution of 1993.
However, people who had not yet been democratically elected into Government
wrote the Interim Constitution. So, it was agreed that the Interim Constitution
would be a temporary Constitution, and that the new Constitution would be
written by the Government elected during the elections in 1994, which is the first
democratically elected Government in the history of South Africa. The Interim
Constitution set up the Constitutional Assembly (CA) to write the new
Constitution. However, the CA did not write the Constitution alone. All South
Africans were invited to say what they thought should be in the new
The Constitution was co-ordinated by the Constitutional Assembly and approved
by Government in 1996.
We now have the Constitution of 1996 (Act 108 of 1996).
QUICK LOOK AT THE CONSTITUTION
This is the introduction to the Constitution.
CHAPTER 1 - FOUNDING PROVISIONS
This has the basic ideas behind the Constitution; the national symbols (like the
flag) that will be used; and the official languages.
CHAPTER 2 - BILL OF RIGHTS
These human rights are protected.
CHAPTER 3 - CO-OPERATIVE GOVERNMENT
This chapter stipulates that Government in South Africa has three spheres; a
national sphere, a provincial sphere, and a local sphere. It also stipulates how
the national, provincial and local spheres of Government must work together.
CHAPTER 4 - PARLIAMENT
Parliament is the part of the national Government, which writes new laws for the
whole country. It is made up of the National Assembly and the National Council
CHAPTER 5 - THE PRESIDENT AND NATIONAL EXECUTIVE
The National Executive is the part of national Government, which puts the laws
written by Parliament into operation. The President is head of the National
CHAPTER 6 – PROVINCES
This chapter stipulates how the provincial legislatures and executives are made
up and how they work. It deals with provincial constitutions. It also sets out the
areas over which both the national Government and the provincial Government
may make laws and stipulates what happens if these laws do not agree.
CHAPTER 7 - LOCAL GOVERNMENT
This chapter stipulates how local Government is made up, what powers it has
and what it must do.
CHAPTER 8 - COURTS AND ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
This chapter deals with the courts in South Africa, what powers they have, and
how judges are chosen.
CHAPTER 9 - STATE INSTITUTIONS SUPPORTING CONSTITUTIONAL
This chapter sets up Institutions to make sure that Government does its job
properly and to help you protect your rights.
CHAPTER 10 - PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
This chapter sets out the principles, which govern the Public Administration, and
the people who work for the Government.
CHAPTER 11 - SECURITY SERVICES
This chapter deals with the police, army and intelligence services. It stipulates
how these must work and makes sure that they act properly.
CHAPTER 12 - TRADITIONAL LEADERS
This chapter deals with traditional leaders.
CHAPTER 13 - FINANCE
To make sure that the money raised by the Government is used properly, this
chapter sets out rules that must be obeyed by the Government. It sets up the
Financial and Fiscal Commission, which helps work out how much money
provinces, and municipalities need. It also has the rules for the Central Bank.
CHAPTER 14 - GENERAL PROVISIONS
This chapter has rules about international agreements and customary
international law and stipulates how these will apply in South Africa.
This prescribes what the South African flag looks like.
This has the oaths of office and solemn affirmations, which the President, Deputy
President, Ministers and so on must swear before they take office.
This deals with how the President, Premiers, Chairperson of the National Council
of Provinces, Speakers and Deputy Speakers are elected.
This is a list of the areas for which both the national Government and provincial
Governments can write laws, like health services and housing.
This is a list of the areas for which only provincial Governments can write laws,
like markets and refuse removal.
This deals with the changes that have to happen when the Constitution
starts to function.
This schedule prescribes what laws are replaced by the Constitution.
PROTECTING DEMOCRACY AND YOUR RIGHTS WITH THE
To protect democracy and prevent abuse of power, the Constitution:
Gives you important or fundamental human rights in the chapter on the Bill of
Rights, and protects these rights;
Has rules about when elections must happen and makes sure that elections
happen regularly so that one Government cannot decide to stay in power for
Has rules, which make sure that power is separated between different parts
of Government so that no part has too much power. This is also called the
Separation of Powers;
Sets up national, provincial and local Government. These are called
spheres of Government. These spheres of Government work in different
places and help to make sure that the country is run properly and that
Government is close to the people it serves. It also makes sure that there is
a clear balance of power and that each part of Government knows what
powers it has;
Sets up a Constitutional Court, which has the final say about what the
Constitution means, and which can scrap laws made by the Government if
they go against the Constitution;
Sets up independent Institutions to educate citizens about their rights, to help
you protect your rights and to monitor (check) Government to make sure that
it is doing its work properly; and
Makes sure that the police, army and intelligence services protect South
Africa and its people.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Chapter 2 of the Constitution has the Human Rights, which will be protected.
However, one must remember that these rights can sometimes be limited. This
means they could be changed, restricted, or even taken away. However, this
can only be done:
If the law which limits a right applies to everybody;
If there is a good reason to limit the right; and
If limiting the right makes sense in an open and democratic country.
Some rights can also be suspended or taken away for a short time during a state
of emergency. Government can only call a state of emergency when war,
invasion, or revolution threatens the security of the country, or when there has
been a natural disaster (such as a flood). But there are some rights, like the
right to life, the right to human dignity, and some of the rights that arrested,
detained or accused people have, which cannot be suspended and can never be
taken away, even during a state of emergency.
(a) WHAT IS IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS?
These are the human rights, which are protected by the Constitution:
Everyone is equal and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the
No-one, including the Government, is allowed to treat one less than other
people (discriminate against you) because of race, gender, sex,
pregnancy, marital status (whether married or single), ethnic or social.
People may also be detained even if they are not accused of committing a
crime. For instance, they may be detained for medical reasons. This
section also sets out the rights that these people have.
(b) DO PEOPLE HAVE TO FOLLOW THE BILL OF RIGHTS?
The Bill of Rights works to stop the Government from abusing the rights
of the people. Sometimes the Bill of Rights says which rights work
between the Government and the people, and which rights work between
people as well. For example, the section on Equality clearly stipulates that
people cannot discriminate against one another. If the Bill of Rights does
not say this, it is usually left to the courts to decide which rights work
(c) WHO CAN TAKE A CASE INVOLVING THE BILL OF RIGHTS TO COURT?
One can take a case involving the Bill of Rights to court when one does so
or an association or organisation can take a case to court to protect the
rights of its members.
Elections have to be held at least every five years.
All South African citizens are allowed to vote in elections, as long as they are
at least 18 years old.
The party that wins an election becomes the Government.
SEPARATION OF POWERS
Government is divided up into three sections or branches (called the Legislature,
Executive, and Judiciary) to make sure that it works properly by each branch of
Government being able to check on the other to ensure that none abuse their
power. Each of these branches has a different job to do and each has the power
to do certain things only.
THE SPHERES OF GOVERNMENT
The governing of a country is a huge job. To make sure it works properly, it is
divided up into national, provincial and local spheres.
National Government deals with matters, which affect the whole country.
(a) THE NATIONAL LEGISLATURE
The national legislature is also called Parliament. It is made up of the National
Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Parliament writes laws (Acts of
Parliament) which have to be obeyed by the whole country.
i. THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NA)
The NA has between 350 and 400 members. These members are
chosen during national elections and stay in Parliament for up to 5
years. This is also called a five-year term. Parliament is based in
Cape Town. The rules about who can be a member of the NA are
in chapter 4 of the Constitution.
ii. THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES (NCOP)
The NCOP is made up of 10 people or delegates from each
province. The NCOP represents the interest of the provinces at a
national level. It is involved in writing Acts of Parliament, which
affect the provinces. It also meets in Cape Town. The NCOP has
replaced the old Senate.
(b) THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE
The National Executive (NE) is also called the Cabinet. It is the body,
which puts the laws made by Parliament into operation. Members of the
Cabinet must follow a Code of Conduct, which is set out in an Act of
Parliament. This Code of Conduct will set up agreed rules about how
members of the Cabinet must behave.
Provincial Governments deal with issues which affect their provinces only. These
include the health service provided by the province, nature conservation in the
province, and the major roads, which run through the province.
There is a Provincial Legislature to write laws for each province. These laws
have to be obeyed by people while they are in that province.
Provincial Legislatures are also allowed to write provincial constitutions for their
Provinces. Nevertheless, like all laws written by the Provincial Legislature,
provincial constitutions cannot go against the Constitution.
Each province has a Provincial Executive to put these laws into operation. These
are made up of a Premier and an Executive Council.
The local sphere of Government is made up of municipalities. Municipalities deal
with issues, which affect the local area or municipality that they control. These
include electricity, fire fighting, traffic and parking and many other things.
Each municipality has a Municipal Council, which is both the Legislature and
Executive for that municipality.
Laws written by a Municipal Council are called by-laws. They have to be obeyed
by everyone living in or visiting a local area while they are in that local area. By-
laws cannot go against:
Acts of Parliament; or
Provincial laws for that Province.
One of the important things about local Government in the Constitution is that it
says Governments must see to the development of communities. This means
local Government must not just make sure that people follow the laws, but must
also serve the needs of their communities.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
There are a number of different courts in South Africa. They are:
The Constitutional Court;
The Supreme Court of Appeal (which used to be called the Appellate
The High Courts (which used to be called the Supreme Courts);
Magistrates' Courts; and
Other courts set up by Acts of Parliament (such as the Industrial Court and
the Small Claims Court).
The Constitutional Court is the most important court when it comes to the
Constitution. If the Government writes a law or does anything to one or the
community, which goes against one’s rights, one can go to this court. If the
Constitutional Court agrees with one, it can set aside the law, or it can stop the
Government from doing what it is doing.
STATE INSTITUTIONS SUPPORTING CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
The Institutions to protect people from abuse by the Government and to make
sure that Government does its work properly are set out in chapter 9 of the
Constitution. These Institutions are independent. This means the
Government does not control them at all, although they are created by the
The Public Protector
investigates complaints about Government officials, like
pension pay out clerks. The Public Protector will try to solve the problem or
will refer it to someone who can.
The Human Rights Commission
protects Human Rights. It will educate people
about Human Rights. It will investigate complaints about Human Rights
abuses and will help one take these to court. This Commission of Human
Rights stops laws, practices and customs that discriminate against people
because of their gender. It can also monitor, educate and lobby for things
like changing laws.
checks how all sections of Government spend their
money. The Auditor-General is not allowed to work for a political party.
The Independent Election Commission
manages all elections to make sure
they are free and fair.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority
regulates broadcasting and assures
that radio and television broadcasts are fair and that they represent the views
of South African society.
The security services of South Africa are a police service, a defence force and the
The Constitution makes sure that these protect South Africa and the people who
live here by saying:
No-one who works for these can follow an order to do anything which is
against the law;
The security services are not allowed to act for or against a political party;
The defence force is the only military force allowed;
There is a Minister; a multi-party Committee of Parliament; and a secretariat
made up of civilians to make sure the police service and defence force do
their work properly; and
A civilian inspector will monitor what the intelligence services do.
WHAT ELSE DOES THE CONSTITUTION COVER?
This is the introduction to the Constitution. It stipulates why the Constitution was
Chapter 1 deals with the basic principles of the Constitution and the national
symbols, which will be used, like:
The National Flag
The eleven (11) official languages
Government and government departments in each sphere (national, provincial
and local) must co-operate with other government departments in the same
sphere, and government in other spheres.
Chapter 10 sets out the principles which all people who work for Government or
Institutions such as public enterprises must follow. These principles include
things like being efficient, fair accountability and so on.
This chapter does not go into lots of detail, but stipulates that Government will
write laws to make sure these principles are obeyed.
It sets up a Public Service Commission to promote these principles in the public
service. The public service is made up of all the people who work for the public
administration. This includes bodies like Telkom and the SABI.
The institution, status and role of traditional leadership, according to customary
law, are recognised, subject to the Constitution. A traditional authority that
observes a system of customary law may function subject to any applicable
legislation and customs, which includes amendments to, or repeal of, that
legislation or those customs. The courts must apply customary law when the law
is applicable, subject to the Constitution and any legislation that specifically deals
with customary law.
Role of traditional leaders:
National legislation may provide for a role for traditional leadership as an
institution at local level on matters affecting local communities.
To deal with matters relating to traditional leadership, the role of traditional
leaders, customary law and the customs of communities observing a system of
customary law -
(a) National or provincial legislation may provide for the establishment of
houses of traditional leaders; and
(b) National legislation may establish a council of traditional leaders.
Acts of Parliament: Laws written by Parliament
By-Laws: Laws written by Municipal Councils
Constitutional Democracy: A democracy where everyone, including
the Government must follow the rules in
Parliament: The part of the National Government,
which writes new laws and changes old
written laws, elects the President, and
checks that the executive enforces its
Public Interest: In the interest of the public, or good for the
Speaker: The chairperson of the National
Assembly or a provincial legislature.
CA Constitutional Assembly
NA National Assembly
NCO National Council of Provinces
NE National Executive
SOME OBSERVATIONS REGARDING PROTOCOL AND
Although there are a multitude of thematic books relating to Protocol and
etiquette , the guidelines which follow only try to prescribe the broad parameters
within which a state or an individual should move without embarrassing
him/herself or his/her Institution.
Most countries adhere to the western type of Protocol and etiquette and most
countries have their own manuals on Protocol and etiquette which rely heavily on
the sources on this subject by European - specifically French/German - and
We in Africa have rich traditions and cultures, which manifest our own brand of
etiquette - which is in the making. Our beautiful, colourful and traditional dress
code is surely accepted world wide, as is our fine cuisine, which competes with
the best there is to offer.
With so many countries, regions, cultural groups and religious groups which all
have there own taboo's, do's and don’ts one can only furnish broad parameters
for all possible eventualities.
The best way forward is to observe how other people behave, ask
questions regarding foreign usage’s and cultures and be prepared that
things are done differently in other countries and respect it.
At the same time it is not inappropriate to expect visitors to our
country to also respect our traditions, cultures, dress code and cuisine.
The sincerity with which one approaches every Protocol and etiquette
matter overrides any so called breach in Protocol and etiquette.
These guidelines are therefore an effort to inform the individual regarding the
broad parameters of Protocol and etiquette as it is practised in South Africa and
Eventually it is up to the individual whether he/she wants to follow it to the hilt.
INTRODUCTION: DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS: THE DIPLOMAT
By R G Feltham: Diplomatic Handbook: 1994
At the present stage of the human's development the world is divided into over
190 units called states. How and why the states have the shape and population
they have today is mainly a matter of historical accident and personal design.
Within a state, the rule of law prevails, and those who break the law are
punished. However, outside the territory of a state, no such law exists and the
choice between international anarchy and international harmony rests freely with
the individual states. Towards fellow states they may behave responsibly or
irresponsibly, peacefully or aggressively; even a negative, isolationist attitude can
be beneficial or harmful, for every state is a member of a community and not
only its action but also its inaction affects the whole.
The main objective of any state in its relations with other states is to direct and
influence these relations for its own maximum advantage. Nevertheless, at the
same time, and only in self-interest, it has the responsibility of formulating its
policies towards other states and managing its relations in the interest of world
harmony, thus helping to prevent wars and the waste of wealth.
The formulation of foreign policy is one of the aspects of national politics and is
the task of the politician, while the management of international relations and
the reconciliation of diverse foreign policy priorities are the tasks of the diplomat.
The basis of the above diplomacy is communication between governments of
states (and to an increasing extent with international organizations), and this can
be effected directly between heads of governments or indirectly through the
intermediary of written correspondence or of an ambassador. Between the super
states and between neighbouring states diplomacy, at its highest level can most
logically be constructed by heads of government meeting together face to face
and exchanging their thoughts and ideas - talking, reasoning and discussing;
but, because of their variety and complexity, diplomatic relations in general can
only be conducted indirectly, and centuries of experience have shown that the
person of the ambassador is indispensable for this purpose. However, an
ambassador seldom works on his/her own; s/he is the head of a diplomatic
mission, working together as a team; provides the basic and all-important link
between government and government or between government and international
The breaching of the Berlin Wall raised problems in every corner of the world,
offered opportunities and required every country to review and re-define its
foreign policy priorities.
For diplomats the years to come are bound to be a period of intense and
increasing activity. They will be operating in a very different environment and will
need to acquire a more critical, a more analytical, more constructive attitude
towards problems which will inevitably arise, and they will have to relearn the old
END OF QUOTE
Protocol and etiquette is a vehicle to assist any politician or diplomat in
this entanglement of agreements, negotiations and discussions, which
are called diplomacy. Protocol and etiquette are the lubricant, which
makes the diplomacy vehicle run smoothly.
PROTOCOL: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
PROTOCOL AND ETIQUETTE: A SUMMARY
The meaning of "protocol" is "our correct behaviour" - behaviour by a
The meaning of "etiquette" is "my correct behaviour"- behaviour by the
is the interaction at any level among different sovereign states and
Protocol and etiquette is a vehicle to assist any politician or diplomat in
this entanglement of agreements, negotiations and discussions, which
are called diplomacy.
Protocol and etiquette are the lubricant, which makes the diplomacy
vehicle runs smoothly.
Since there are so many different cultural groups in the world, Protocol varies in
every country. The Protocol practised in South Africa is based upon the western
culture, which emanates from Western Europe. Most, if not all, countries of the
European Union; almost all English speaking and Commonwealth countries; the
USA and the Nordic countries have adopted these sets of Protocol and etiquette
rules. Muslim countries and those from the Far East have different sets of
etiquette and are referred to later in this document.
Origin and purpose
The international code of governmental behaviour is called Protocol.
is the official form of procedure used in the affairs of State and
concerns the rules of polite behaviour between individuals.
It so often happens that people think of "protocol and etiquette " as
something completely strange and difficult and complicated to
understand, with iron-fast rules for behaviour.
This misconception makes people act unnaturally in certain situations where it is
of behaviour is much more important than the rules,
which determine behaviour. Natural behaviour is the hallmark of sincerity. It
is therefore safest, in promoting communication, to adapt your behaviour to that
generally accepted in the circles in which you move.
While one remains in the environment to which one is accustomed, such
adaptation is usually not required.
For the politician/diplomat, however, whose movements will in the course of
his/her career take him/her to many widely different groups’ adaptability is a
sine qua non.
He/she must fall as naturally as possible into the behaviour patterns of the
societies in which he/she moves on the international stage or representing
his/her own country.
At the same time, to represent his/her own country, he/she must
maintain the qualities that distinguish his/her own country.
apparent paradox does not create grave problems, for it is when the
politician/diplomat is entertaining foreigners that his/her own national
characteristics are emphasised. When one is a guest of foreigners,
he/she abides by their – the foreigners’ - rules. At the same time, one
could expect visitors to our country to observe our customs, dress code
Etiquette in foreign parts is like Protocol and diplomacy itself, merely the
framework within which communication takes place.
This is a short review of the more important aspects of social behaviour by which
a politician/diplomat should and must abide.
Most English speaking countries in Africa in general follow British
customs/manners and this is a short summary of those customs/manners.
INTRODUCTION TO PROTOCOL
is the interaction at any level among different sovereign states and
is a regulating function of diplomacy.
It is difficult to think of Protocol outside the whole field of inter-state relations
can be defined as the management of international relations,
Should something go wrong, or some guidance is needed, there should be some
procedure in place to provide a way forward. This is where Protocol comes to
is the lubricant, which makes the protocol vehicle
move smoothly and is practised daily among States and
A SHORT HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ON PROTOCOL
In the maze of fiefdoms and monarchies in the medieval times, it was always
questioned who was the more important figure in the Old World.
In 1504, Pope Julius II, then perceived as the most important Christian on
earth, was accorded precedence over Christian kings and rulers of the world
during this period.
After this, the establishment of their monarchy determined the precedence
enjoyed by monarchs, for example,
Two Sicilies AD1130
In 1815 different countries convened in Vienna to discuss diplomatic practice. A
document was drawn up at this convention, which became binding on all
countries that participated in the Vienna proceedings.
On 16 April 1961, 137 countries met to revise the 1815 document and to
streamline it with the present-day demands of those countries. This gave rise to
the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.
The Republic of South Africa acceded to the Vienna Conventions and some of the
articles of that Convention are incorporated in the Diplomatic Immunities and
Privileges Act, 2001 (Act No. 37 of 2001) of South Africa, which deals with
DEFINITION OF PROTOCOL
The word Protocol is derived from the Latin world protocollum meaning 'first
glued-in' to the book, originally intended as a register, in which public documents
were bound. Later it came to mean the form used in drawing up such
documents. It also became employed to signify the forms to be observed in the
Official correspondence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Diplomatic documents such as treaties, conventions, declarations, letters of
credence, full powers and other letters addressed by one Head of State to
The word Protocol has also been used to denote the form taken by an
Protocol is commonly used to designate the code of behaviour, as
practised on diplomatic occasions.
Whenever a group of states comes together, they are regulated by
Protocol, which warrants that they conduct their affairs in ways that
conform to what is accepted as good behaviour in such a 'diplomatic
Protocol is dynamic and flexible, yet sufficiently specific and to the point to be
regarded as a guide at any time as to what is acceptable good conduct. It also
formalises channels of communication and methodologies of doing business
between the different governments (i.e. it harmonises Intergovernmental
One might then pose the question: What is Protocol? According to the Concise
Oxford Dictionary, Protocol is defined as 'observance of official formality and
Protocol, then, can be seen as the application of this official formality and
etiquette as practised, for instance, on diplomatic occasions where dignitaries
and very important persons (VIPs) official status, nationally and internationally,
will play a significant role in matters such as seating arrangements where rules
of precedence will be properly observed.
LEVELS OF PROTOCOL
When official Protocol within a government is practised, it is
done on two levels :
This type of Protocol is referred to as State Protocol and pertains largely to, and
is centrally located around the President as Head of State and the Government,
Ministers, Premiers, Speakers, Mayors and state officials, and by and large
relates to the following issues:
Visits of foreign Heads of State/Government to the Republic of South Africa.
Presidential visits (both in and outside the country).
State and official luncheons, dinners and banquets.
Official receptions and entertaining at the Presidential Guest House.
Reception of official visitors to the President.
All functions, be they at the level of State, province, municipal, commercial,
industrial or any other function where the President is present.
Opening of Parliament.
Presentation of Credentials of foreign Heads of Mission.
Commissioning of South African Heads of Mission.
State funerals/memorial services of VIP’s & politicians. To be decided by
Opening and/or closing of international conferences.
Freedom Day celebrations.
Liaison with other Ministries, government agencies, Local Governments,
Provincial Governments and private organisations at all official receptions and
conferences involving foreign dignitaries and participants.
Liaison with State Security, the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Protocol issues and
management of all State Protocol materials, for example flags,
arrival/departure ceremonies, National Orders, etc.
Compilation of a state guest list.
Matters pertaining to the Council Meetings of Local Governments.
Matters pertaining to the Provincial Legislatures
Matters pertaining to the NCOP meetings/sessions.
Matters pertaining to the meetings/sessions of the National Council of
Traditional Leaders and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders.
This type of Protocol pertains largely to the diplomatic and consular corps and is
concerned with diplomatic relations.
No nation lives in isolation. Nations are interdependent and in the twenty first
century the sovereignty and territorial integrity of members of the international
community are nurtured and respected.
This is done through principles of acceptable behaviour - each state is left
to promote and protect its interest, but this should be done with sensitivity
towards and respect for other states.
This is where diplomatic relations begin to emerge, which subsequently lead to
the establishment of diplomatic missions in each other's capital.
Before the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Conventions, mutual relations were normally
entered into through bilateral agreements regarding the treatment of reciprocal
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations of 1961 codified the accepted rules in this
The Republic of South Africa, as a member of the diplomatic community, has
entered into diplomatic relations with most of the members of the United Nations
(UN). These include Commonwealth countries, the Organisation of African Unity
(OAU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other
regional blocks and nations.
The most profound manner of expressing a country’s recognition of the
sovereignty of another country, is by having diplomatic (and to a lesser extent
consular relations) with a another country; and to underscore this recognition by
accrediting a representative (Ambassador/High Commissioner) to that country
[or International Organisations.]
More than a hundred states have established diplomatic Missions in South Africa
and are therefore accorded privileges and immunities in accordance with
international law and the South African Diplomatic Immunities and
Privileges Act of 2001.
There are certain diplomatic implications, which need to be mentioned briefly.
The Republic of South Africa is a sovereign state with the President as Head of
State and of the Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF.
As a member of the Commonwealth, the Constitution of the Republic of South
Africa bears the following implications as far as the appointment of envoys from
South Africa to Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries is concerned.
The President of South Africa appoints (and receives) the following classes of
Heads of Mission:
South Africa sends and receives diplomatic representatives to and from
Commonwealth countries as High Commissioners. Commonwealth
diplomatic missions in the Republic of South Africa are known as High
South Africa sends and receives diplomatic representatives to and from
non-Commonwealth countries as Ambassadors. Non-Commonwealth
missions are known as embassies.
South Africa also sends Permanent Representatives to and receives
usually the Head of the UNDP from the United Nations as the Secretary-
South Africa also sends and receives a Representative to and from the
Head of Vatican office – Nuncio / Pro-Nuncio. (Diplomatic representatives
of the Pope).
Letters of Credence of South African Heads of Mission are signed by the
President of the Republic and countersigned by the Minister of Foreign
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.
Head of a Legation (There are only a few in existence today).
Charge d’Affaires en titre, or en pied.
Class One and Two Head of Mission present their Credentials to the Head of
State (the President of the Republic of South Africa).
Class Three Heads of Mission present Letters of Introduction to the Minister
of Foreign Affairs.
The President personally receives the Letter of Commission and Letters of
Credence from Commonwealth and foreign Heads of Mission accredited to
South Africa at a formal ceremony at the Presidential Guest House (Pretoria)
or Office of the President (Cape Town).
Before the appointment of Ambassadors, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim are
appointed by the governments. They represent Letters of Introduction to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Similarly, acting High Commissioners present Letters of Introduction to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In the absence of Ambassadors or High Commissioners, a formal letter is sent
to the Minister of Foreign Affairs after the commissions of the countries
concerned have been accepted.
The President and Minister of Foreign Affairs should sign Credentials for
South African delegations to international conferences.
The diplomatic levels and scene concerns the following specific issues:
The accreditation, presentation and departure of the diplomatic corps,
staff of international organisations and the consular corps.
The administration of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001.
Relations between the diplomatic corps and South African dignitaries (e.g.
President, Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, Chairperson of the NCOP,
government Ministers and South African citizens.
Ceremonies involving diplomats.
SYNOPSIS OF INTERNATIONAL PROTOCOL
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 were formulated to reach agreement
on rules of conduct relating to diplomacy and to reduce conflict.
It is an observable fact that acceptable behaviour in one state might be
unacceptable in another. It would be unthinkable for two teams to enter into a
game of soccer if the rules were to be made up and changed following the start
of the game. Just so with diplomacy. Protocol is not a special attribute of
Rules for proper international procedure and order are adopted as a matter of
course in all professions and organisations, where the absence of them would
lead to misunderstanding and disagreement that might eventually prevent any
effective work being done.
Thus the Protocol unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs of any country is a
very necessary link between the state and the diplomatic corps.
Practice with respect to the position of diplomats in most countries is
ordered by customary rules which are to a very large measure
embodied in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
The Convention deals, inter alia, with the following matters:
The establishment of diplomatic relations.
The functioning of diplomatic Missions.
The staffing of diplomatic Missions.
The size of a Mission.
Classes of diplomatic agents.
The role of the President is pivotal in most ceremonial affairs, hence the close
collaborative and consultative processes between the Presidency and the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs.
THE AMBASSADOR/HIGH COMMISSIONER AS HEAD OF
The Ambassador/High Commissioner is the representative of the Head of State
of his/her country and should be treated as such.
When the Ambassador/High Commissioner leaves the country a "Charge
d’Affaires ad interim" is appointed to take over his/her tasks.
The Consul-General or Consul is the representative of the Minister of Foreign
Affairs of his/her country.
All the above officials should be treated with the respect accorded to
them because of the position they hold.
Even if you know them personally, you should address them as Ambassador and
the spouse as Mr/Mrs [Surname] when other people are present.
HEAD OF MISSION
The Head of Mission is responsible for all matters connected with his/her Mission.
He/she may, and does, delegate various functions to his/her staff, but he/she
alone is responsible both to her/his own government and to the government to
which he/she is accredited for the conduct of the mission.
Irrespective of the size of his/her staff there is certain basic priorities to which a
Head of Mission normally devotes his/her personal attention:
The formulation of diplomatic policy;
Transmitting to the host government the views of his/her own government on
important matters of common interest and common policy, and acting as the
channel of communication between the two in such matters;
Reporting to his/her Ministry on events of political and economic significance,
whether they are of direct significance (e.g. the national budget or ministerial
changes) or of indirect significance (e.g. changes and trends in social or
economic conditions), and commenting on the views of third parties in the
country (e.g. articles from the local press, opinions of other diplomats);
Being aware of the people of influence and the sources of national power in
the state in which he/she is serving;
Conducting him/herself in his/her official and personal behaviour in such a
way as to bring credit to his/her country;
Cultivating as wide and as varied a circle of contact persons as possible.
A diplomatic mission consists of a diplomatic representative, nominated by one
state (the sending state) and accepted by the other (the receiving state),
together with his/her staff and is established in the diplomatic capital of the
As far as the receiving state is concerned, only one person represents
another state and he/she is head (or acting head) of that mission;
his/her staff, strictly speaking, has no direct representative function
and merely assist their head.
The staff of the diplomatic mission consists of the following:
The head of the mission (e.g. Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent
Representative) who is the person charged by the sending state with the duty
of acting in that capacity (Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent
Persons with diplomatic rank from the Department of Foreign Affairs;
Persons from other departments such as Trade and Industry, Agriculture,
SASS and SANDF who are given diplomatic rank;
Transferred administrative and technical staff;
Members of the service staff of the mission (locally recruited personnel);
"Domestic employees" who are in the domestic service of the Head of Mission
and who are not employees of the sending state;
The term "diplomat" as used here describes a person in a diplomatic
mission who is entitled to full diplomatic privileges and immunities.
The functions of a mission are reflected in its structure and the following pattern
remains valid even if, as may happen in some instances, they are all performed
by a single person:
Sections and positions in an Embassy
The Head of Mission
Ambassador or High Commissioner or Permanent Representative
Chancery: Political section
2nd Secretary; and
Defence/military/naval/army etc attaches
Trade and Industry
Administration and coordination
Communications and other technical services
The sections and positions in a Consulate General or Consulate are as
CONSULATE GENERAL AND A CONSUL GENERAL
(A Consulate General can be described as a Branch Office of the
A Consul General is responsible to his/her Ambassador/High
Commissioner and is called Mr./Madame Consul General. Consulate
Generals are normally in the other larger cities in a country and not in
the capital of a country.
Head of Mission
There are also Officials (Attaché’s) from other Departments who fall
under the rules of the Mission
E.g. Commercial section
Press and information section
Military, Naval, Air and other specialist services.
NATIONAL DAYS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
It is customary for diplomatic missions in South Africa (and South African
Missions abroad) to hold receptions to mark their National Day. These receptions
may be held:
in the morning from around 12.00 to 14.00 or
In the evening around 18.00 to 20.00.
The diplomatic missions have a choice of whom to invite, and this choice is
There are no rules governing the acceptance of dealing of an invitation to
attend such a reception by members of the SA Government or administration,
but normally the Chief of Protocol or his representative will attend a National
In some countries though, there are set rules about who accepts and who
declines. This should always be verified and not assumed. In the Republic of
South Africa, accepting or declining is the prerogative of the guest.
Note: Often members of the diplomatic corps feel offended when local
dignitaries do not attend their receptions. If a problem does exist, it usually
means that their reception may be clashing with major national events in the
It is however, deemed the responsibility of the diplomats themselves to take
appropriate action to ensure that their functions are well attended.
In the event where toasts are proposed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (or
his/her representative) or the Chief of Protocol propose a toast to the Head of
State of the diplomatic mission an hour after the beginning of the reception, for
instance, if it is the National Day of Country A, an officer of the High Commission
shall call the gathering to order:
"Excellencies, ladies and gentleman, may I please have your attention:
the Minister of Foreign Affairs (or representative, or Chief of Protocol)
will propose a toast."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs (or his/her representative or Chief of Protocol):
"Your Excellencies , ladies and gentleman, may I ask you to join
me in a toast to the President of the Republic of (name of
country): The President."
The gathering responds:
The High Commissioner/Ambassador replies:
“Minister, Excellencies, ladies and gentleman, may I ask you to
join me in a toast to the President of the Republic of South
Africa: The President."
The gathering responds:
The National Day messages will be sent in the name of the President
and addressed to a Head of State of another country.
It should be noted whether a particular date is the National Day and/or
Day of Independence (or has another name) as some countries prefer
reference to either the one or the other.
OFFICIAL ORDER OF PRECEDENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Rules to be observed
(1) The order of precedence laid down in the Table of Precedence shall be
observed on all official occasions and the host may deviate from it only
with the approval of the President of the Republic of South Africa.
(2) When foreign relations or interests are the main focus of an official
function, or when precedence above office-bearers in Rubric 5 is given to
the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps in terms of international protocol, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs shall be given precedence above the Doyen and
the office-bearers in Rubric 5.
(3) When foreign relations or interests are the main focus of an official
function, the Director General of the relevant department hosting the
function, shall enjoy precedence after the Secretary of the Cabinet, the
Chief of the South African National Defence Force, and the Director
General of Foreign Affairs.
(4) Rubric 15(a): Should the Public Protector already hold a higher position on
the Official Table of Precedence, he/she shall retain his/her personal
higher precedence for all official functions.
(5) Rubric 15(e) is included, provided that Chairpersons of State Corporations
are invited, when the particular function relates to their specific fields or
according to the choice of the host, should he or she wish to invite all or
any of the Chairpersons.
(6) Persons not appearing in the Table shall not be placed above persons
appearing in it unless they either have been accorded ad hoc precedence
in terms of Rubric 19 of the Table or are invited as guests of honour.
(7) Courtesy precedence is restricted to persons who are not
normally resident in the Republic of South Africa, but includes
church dignitaries within the Republic, as well as other dignitaries, office
bearers and functionaries for whom separate provision has not been made
in the Table.
(8) Amendments to the Table shall be effected only by the President of the
Republic of South Africa and shall be published in the Government
(9) Visiting dignitaries of other countries holding the same rank will take
precedence over South Africans holding that rank.
(Please note that this Order of Precedence gives special recognition to
senior politicians and other political office bearers and members of the
judiciary. Public officials should never aspire or expect to be elevated
to the level/rubrics of democratically elected politicians)
Official Table of Precedence as amended 1 January 1996
Compiled by the Presidency.
The President of the Republic of South Africa or the Acting President.
Deputy President and the President-elect (for the period between his or her
election and assumption of office).
(a) The Chief Justice or the Acting Chief Justice.
(b) President of the Constitutional Court or the Acting President of the
(a) Former Presidents of the Republic of South Africa, in order of seniority.
(b) Former Deputy Presidents, in order of seniority.
Cabinet Ministers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairperson of the
National Council of Provinces and Premiers of the respective Provinces, in order
(a) Ambassadors, in order of seniority.
(b) Envoys, Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary, in order of seniority.
(c) Chargé d'Affaires en titre, in order of seniority.
(d) Heads of other permanent Diplomatic Missions, in order of seniority.
(a) Deputy Ministers, Members of the Executive Councils and Speakers of
Provincial Legislatures, in order of seniority.
(b) Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Deputy Chairperson of the
National Council of Provinces in order of seniority.
(c) The Chief Whip of the majority party in the National Assembly and NCOP
and Deputy Speakers of Provincial Legislators, the Chairperson of the
Standing Committee on Public Accounts in the National Assembly and the
Parliamentary Councillor of the President, in order of seniority.
The Secretary of the Cabinet and the Chief of the National Defence Force.
(a) Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of Embassies, in order of seniority.
(b) Charges d'Affaires ad interim of Legations, in order of seniority.
(c) Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of other permanent Diplomatic Missions, in
order of seniority.
Leaders of the different Political Parties in the National Assembly and the NCOP,
in order of seniority.
(a) Deputy President of the Constitutional Court.
(b) Judges of Appeal, in order of seniority.
(c) Judges of the Constitutional Court, in order of seniority.
(d) Judges President, in order of seniority.
(e) Deputy Judges President, in order of seniority.
(f) Judges of the Supreme Court, in order of seniority.
Former Chief Justices, in order of seniority.
Chairperson of the Commissions established under the Constitution (No 200 of
1993), in order of seniority.
Examples of these Commissions are:
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Human Rights Commission
Independent Broadcasting Authority
Independent Electoral Commission
(a) Members of the National Assembly and of the National Council of
Provinces, in order of seniority.
(b) Members of the Provincial Legislative Authorities, in order of seniority.
(c) Local Royalties, in order of seniority.
(d) Chairperson of the Council for Traditional Leaders.
(e) Chairpersons of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders, in order of
(a) The Auditor-General, Governor of the SA Reserve Bank, Chairperson of
the Public Service Commission, and the Public Protector, in order of
(b) Members of the Public Service Commission, in order of seniority.
(c) Directors-General and their equivalents of Government Departments,
including the Secretary to the National Assembly and the Secretary to the
NCOP, Secretary for Safety and Security, the Defence Secretary and
Directors-General of the respective Provinces, in order of seniority.
(d) Attorneys-General, in order of seniority.
(e) Chairpersons of State Corporations, in order of seniority.
(a) The Mayor of the capital of the Province in which the function is held.
(b) Chairpersons of the Metropolitan Councils of the region in which the
function is held.
Mayors of Provincial capitals, with seniority according to the grade in which the
Local Authority was categorised.
The spouses of the foregoing persons (or in the case of single or divorced
persons or widowers/widows, the ladies/men officially recognised by the
Government as their hostesses) enjoy the precedence of their spouses (or the
persons for whom they act as host/hostesses) and vice versa.
The President of the Republic of South Africa may on special occasions, accord
persons who do not appear in this Table courtesy precedence.
INVITATIONS TO DINNERS/LUNCHES AND F UNCTIONS
Seating arrangements are very important, since there are dynamics involved the
most important being the order of precedence. Failure to observe the order of
precedence can create diplomatic or interdepartmental rows or embarrassment.
Ideally, when a Guest of Honour is invited, no guest who ranks above
the Guest of Honour should be invited. However, circumstances permitting,
seating arrangements can be adapted to suit the situation.
When seating arrangements are considered, the guest list should be prepared
strictly according to the official Table of Precedence of the country. This is
especially relevant when seating the main table, as this would determine who is
seated on the right-hand side of the host. The following should be noted:
The Guest of Honour and his/her companion should be placed to the
right-hand side of the host. If the President has a companion, the
woman Guest of Honour will be placed on the President's right hand
and the man on his/her companion's right-hand side.
The most senior person/couple should be seated to the left of the host's
If there is an unaccompanied male guest, the precedence, which would have
been accorded to a spouse, is accorded the next woman in the order of
Should the sum total of guests to be seated at a table be divisible by four:
men and women cannot be alternated in the normal manner, and
two men and two women will have to be placed together or the host and
hostess will be placed off-centre.
Depending on the nature of the location and the design of tables to be used, for
instance, round, rectangular, elongated, or a combination of both round tables
and an elongated table constituting the main table, seating both the host and
companion can be done in the following manner:
In the middle of the table facing each other with the host.
Where the table is rectangular, at opposite ends of the table.
Alongside each other. This is mostly suitable for a table regarded as the
main table, which is normally longer than the ordinary tables.
As stated the Table of Precedence should be obeyed with great care. The
companion shall be accorded the precedence of the office-bearer; for instance, a
husband shall be accorded the precedence of his wife if she has a higher
precedence and vice versa.
Individuals who may not ordinarily enjoy the same precedence may be seated
together. Courtesy precedence to persons not included in the Official Table of
Precedence (see Rubric 19) may be accorded to such persons. However, the
person enjoying precedence would be made aware of the deviance
from Protocol. It is recommended that seating be in accordance with the
Table of Precedence.
Which information should appear on an invitation card ?
Date and day
Dress Code (traditional/uniform/day suit/dark suit/lounge suit. etc)
RSVP (or Regrets Only – but use is not recommend)
Reason for the occasion
Directions (map attached where applicable)
Who is invited (alone or with partner)
Time (18:00 – 20:00 or 19:00 for 19:30)
Formal dinners and luncheons
a. Table Plans
At formal dinners (and luncheons) it is desirable that there should be a
chart or table plan on display indicating clearly where each guest sits
at the table in relation to the dining room entrance.
This gives the guests, not only an indication of where they will be seated
at the table, but also who the other guests will be, who will be their
neighbours at table, and who are the guests of honour.
It is convenient to have the table plan in the entrance hall so that the
butler may invite the attention of guests thereto on their arrival, before
they advance into the sitting room to greet their hosts.
Alternatively the table plan may be placed at a convenient place near the
exit from the sitting room to the dining room.
b. Place Cards
At any dinner of more than 6 to 8 persons it is desirable that there be
place cards at the individual table settings on the dining room table.
These assist the guests in finding their seats and help them to identify
their neighbours at the table. Put the name of the person on both sides
of the card so that persons sitting on the other side of the table also know
who they are talking to.
Seating and table precedence
At official and diplomatic functions the order of precedence at the table is
most important. However, as informal and easygoing a Cabinet Minister,
Ambassador or other diplomat, administrator, Mayor etc., may be in
ordinary life, it must be remembered that when attending a formal dinner
he/she is representing his/her Head of State, Government,
Country, Province, Municipality, etc. in some degree or other, and
care should be taken to see that he/she (and also his/her
spouse) is given the precedence to which he/she is entitled.
In spite of the existence of an official Table of Precedence, it is a fact that
at international gatherings many problems of seating arise. If the host is
in any doubt at all, he/she should consult the Protocol Division of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If problems are expected, it is advisable to do this before invitations have
been issued and accepted; or at least before invitations other than those
to the guest(s) of honour have been issued; otherwise situations can arise
which even a Chief of Protocol with the wisdom of Solomon could not
resolve to the satisfaction of all.
It is necessary then that the hosts give careful attention to the planning of
their guest list. Some points, which may usefully be borne in mind, are:
i. A guest of honour may not normally be awarded the place of
honour if there are higher-ranking guests present. If it were
desired that a guest of honour be given the place of honour, one
would not invite higher-ranking guests.
ii. If the guest list is packed with high-ranking guests, this could cause
some embarrassment to important guests having to sit near the
end of the table.
iii. Foreigners are normally given precedence over nationals of equal
iv. Language problems between guests may make desirable some
slight diversion from the strict rules of precedence. In such a case
the host may informally explain the position to the guests
concerned in advance.
v. Guests who do not appear on the official Table of Precedence may
be seated according to the precedence which the host decides to
accord them. (After those appearing on the table of precedence).
Factors to be taken into account are age, prominence in the
What an individual wears is largely determined by that person's style. For state
and presidential entertainment, guests are bound to dress according to the
indications on the invitation card. It should, however, be noted that each
country has its own definition of some of the types of dress discussed below, and
that forms of dress and how they are defined, should not be assumed but
clarification should be sought.
Types of dress
Dress is normally grouped into the following categories:
Morning dress (seldom used in South Africa)
Traditionally worn at royal garden parties, the races and weddings. In the
Republic of South Africa morning dress for state and presidential occasions is
Evening dress (seldom used in South Africa)
(a) White Tie
: Commonly called tails, worn with white tie and white waistcoat
on very formal occasions such as a State Ball. White Tie is seldom
Ladies wear long dresses.
(b) Black Tie
: It consists of a black jacket with silk lapels and matching
trousers, which have braid, down the outside leg. The shirt should be
white, worn with a black bow tie. Some people also wear a waistcoat or
alternatively a cummerbund. It should, however, be noted that a
waistcoat and a cummerbund are never worn together. Should a
double-breasted jacket be worn, neither the cummerbund nor the
waistcoat should be worn. Black shoes and black socks are worn with this
type of dress. During hot weather a white dinner jacket can be worn with
black trousers and cummerbund.
Ladies would normally
wear short dresses. However, long dresses are
also acceptable (very much dependent on the fashion in the receiving
(c) Short black jacket with striped Grey trousers as occasionally worn on
formal parliamentary and state occasions during the day. Short black
jacket is worn with a white shirt, grey tie, black shoes and socks.
(d) Traditional dress
Formal traditional dress is also acceptable at most if not all state
occasions in South Africa.
Formal as prescribed by military regulations.
(f) Dark suit
It has become accepted in South Africa that a dark suit for men is also
(g) Informal dress
The word informal is sometimes misleading. In Europe, for
instance, this type of dress refers to a lounge suit. In some countries,
including the Republic of South Africa, a lounge suit (business suit) is
regarded as formal. Informal may also refer to casual dress. However,
casual dress normally refers to clothes worn to outdoor functions such as
barbecues and sporting events. To overcome confusion and avoid
doubts, individuals may consult the Chief of Protocol (or the
hostess/host) in this regard.
Women and dress
Women are normally afforded the opportunity of choosing dresses that suit then.
Some prefer to wear national dress if one does exist
. The following are
As mentioned above, if black tie is stipulated for men, their companions have
a choice of long or short dresses or even decorative evening trousers.
However, long dresses are also acceptable (very much dependent on the
fashion in the receiving country).
The design should at all times be sensitive to the occasion.
of the occasion should be acknowledged, thus if the Guest of Honour is from
a Middle Eastern or Eastern country, for example, one should be sensitive
towards their culture, dress code, etc.
If gloves are worn (in the Republic of South Africa they are seldom
worn) it is expected that they be left on, for instance, in a receiving line, but
should be removed when eating.
In the Republic of South Africa hats are no longer commonly worn.
However, should they be worn, consideration should be taken of those seated
behind your. Size is thus important. Unlike men, women may wear hats
Traditional dress is being acceptable to almost all ceremonies or
GUEST STATUS AND STATE GIFTS
Visits abroad or visitors to South Africa
This part will attempt to facilitate the process of a South African Head of State,
government dignitary or VIP visiting a foreign country; visitors coming to South
Africa. There are different types of visits, for example, state, official,
working, and private that are undertaken by different dignitaries. Being a
host country and being a visiting country have more similarities than differences.
Always make sure of the object/purpose of the visit.
The following should be taken into account:
a. The purpose and objective of the visit
In the event of a visit to a foreign country the Presidency (or Ministry
concerned) (in case of the President/Deputy President) together with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will both give a clear indication of the visit.
There are processes for the outgoing/incoming visits for the
Premiers/Speakers/Chairperson of the NCOP/Traditional
The Department of Foreign Affairs will be of assistance in this regard.
Some indication should also be given of the intended benefit accruing
from the visit. If this is clearly defined the visit can, in due course, be
evaluated as being a success or failure.
b. Purpose of the visit
The visit might be undertaken in order to sign an agreement between
the two participating countries.
A visit may be purely intended to strengthen close relations.
The visit might be intended to establish new relationships.
An important consideration might be the need to engage in discussions
regarding bilateral issues of interest, for example, trade, cultural
issues, aid or exchange of ideas on regional issues.
To share knowledge on technology, agriculture, industry or whatever is
of significance to the two countries.
c. Preparation for the visit
Depending on the nature, objectives and purpose of the visit, a committee
will be established to prepare for the visit. An advance team, which might
consist of members of the committee, is sent to the host country to
discuss the programme.
It is important to take into account that when a visit of this
nature is prepared, the preparations are approached both from
an official and from personal perspective.
The current system regarding state gifts has been developed to facilitate the
administration on the purchasing, storage, presentation and record keeping of
state gifts. Currently state gifts are administered as follows:
a. Purchasing of state gifts
State gifts are purchased from different suppliers. In the Department of
Foreign Affairs an order form is completed by the Directorate: State Visits
for new gifts that are to be purchased, and is sent to Provisioning
Administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The suppliers will deliver
the ordered gifts together with an invoice.
A payment advice is then completed by the Directorate: State Visits and
submitted to the Finance component of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for
A number is allocated to each gift, which is then recorded in an inventory
Provinces/Local Governments etc might have their own
processes of purchasing gifts and budgetary provision should be
made for gifts.
b. Presenting of state gifts
State gifts are presented to foreign citizens, usually Heads of State and/or
senior members of government, during state or official visits abroad, or to
If a state or official visit is to be undertaken, the Directorate: State Visits
will determine the gifts that will be presented and who the recipients will
be. The selected gifts are wrapped in the vault and the number of each
gift, as well as the name of its proposed presenter and recipient is noted.
The completed form must be submitted to the Directorate: State Visits
immediately on the party's return, along with any returned gifts. Prices of
the presented gifts are written on the form and the protocol officer
concerned will update the stock-book and send a copy to Finance for its
The Directorate: State Visits also keeps a record of the gifts given and
gifts presented to individuals in order to obviate presentation of the same
gifts on different occasions.
c. Guidelines: Giving and receiving gifts
The following are basic guidelines for giving state gifts (as it stands
d. Presenting gifts
(not exact figures)
Head of State R2 000 - R5 000, if
Deputy Head of State R1 500 - R2 000
Cabinet Ministers R1 000 - R1 500
Deputy Ministers and Premiers R 800 - R1 000
Directors-General R 600 - R 800
Deputy Directors-General R 300 - R 500
e. Receiving gifts
There are no regulations as to the receiving of gifts in the Republic of
South Africa. Officials are allowed to keep the gifts as long as they are not
regarded as bribes.
If the value is estimated at more than R150 (excluding meals) a
written submission, stipulating name of official, name of
benefactor, nature of gift, value, date, etc. should be presented
to Office of the relevant Deputy Director-General.
PROTOCOL WHEN INVITED BY A HEAD OF STATE
(This information could also be used for functions hosted by
Premiers/Executive Mayors/MEC’s/Chairperson of the NCOP etc)
Heads of State differ. Some are more formal than others are. People invited to
the Presidential Guest House or official residences are expected to be at ease
and look forward to the visit. Whatever the official function, there are
international guidelines laying down Protocol. These guidelines facilitate treating
the President with respect and amount to basic rules of common sense. In
most instances the information provided on the invitation card
complies with Protocol requirements. In addition to the invitation, the
Protocol components of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency will
provide further information and guidance.
Meeting the President and First Lady (or companion/spouse)
As stated above, there are no fixed rules about the approach of
presidents, some are more formal than others are. However, most cues
will be picked up from the President him/herself.
Men may bow and women may
curtsey or nod on being introduced to
the President and the First Lady (or companion/spouse).
The same procedure may be observed when persons take leave of the
President and/or his/her companion/spouse.
Should the President extend his/her hand, persons are expected to
accept. (The choice to simultaneously bow or curtsey, with regard to
women, is left to the choice of the individual.)
Invitations to the Presidential Guest House and Official
(This information could also be used for functions hosted by
Premiers/Executive Mayors/MEC’s/Chairperson of the NCOP etc)
Whether the President chooses to act formally or informally, invitations to
the Presidential Guest House and the Official Residences should be
handled in a formal manner and in consultation with the Protocol
components of the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
following should be observed:
Sufficient information is provided on the official invitation card as to
the purpose of the invitation, for example, banquet, luncheon, dinner
The date, time, venue and dress.
Invited guests should reply to the Protocol section as soon as possible,
well in advance of the RSVP date.
Invited guests should arrive at the time indicated on the invitation
card. Arriving 15 minutes before the indicated time is often
acceptable. If the time reads 18:30 for 19:00, guests should not arrive
later than 18:30.
Invited guests should not bring friends and/or relatives, who are not
officially invited. Uninvited guests at presidential functions cause
embarrassment to the President as host and to the uninvited guests
Guests should comply with the dress code as indicated on the
On arrival guests are expected to produce their invitations for security
Depending on the nature of the occasion, provide the Master of
Ceremony or protocol officer with your name, who will then present
the guest(s) to the President and the First Lady (or
When introduced to the President and First Lady (or
companion/spouse) the male guest precedes his/her
companion/spouse. As stated earlier, a person can simultaneously
bow or curtsey when shaking hands.
If the occasion is a banquet or dinner, guests are normally shown to
their seats. Before the entrance of the President, all remain standing.
When the President and First Lady (or companion/spouse) and their
guests of honour who enter last, reach their chairs, the National
Anthem in the case of a State Banquet is played, obeyed by a word of
welcome and grace or silent meditation.
In the event where the anthem is not played, grace will be said and
guests will be seated.
Etiquette will be observed during the function.
When a toast is proposed all guests stand up when so requested.
When the President and his/her entourage leave, guests are expected
to stand up. (Anthems may be played.) The presidential retinue
leaves first and guests are expected to remain at their seats.
There are a number of ways of receiving guests. The following method,
or a variation is acceptable.
Guests arrive in the reception area for pre-dinner drinks.
Guests are requested to move into the dining area to await the
President and First Lady (or companion/spouse) and their entourage.
The President's arrival is announced.
The President and First Lady (or companion/spouse) and Guest(s) of
Honour enter the dining area. Guests stand when the President enters
the dining area.
The National Anthem is played.
The guests are welcomed and grace is said/silent meditation is
At a convenient time the President and main table guests depart.
Other guests leave the function immediately after the presidential
party according to the dictates of their protocol.
INTRODUCING PEOPLE TO EACH OTHER
Introducing people to each other is one of the areas where we almost all fail.
The whole purpose underlying an introduction is to allow one person to get to
know another. In introducing one person to another, it is good to give some