Parliament begins setting up internal structures

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Parliament begins setting up internal structures

"Parliament Organizes Internal Structures"

Monday, June 24, 2024

With the election of the Presiding Officers and the inauguration of the new President done and dusted, the seventh Parliament will now shift focus to establishing internal structures necessary for Parliament to function.

Among the activities that will unfold are the Rules Committees of the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) meetings.

“These committees will establish the structures necessary for the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces to function. They also decide on the constitution of the two Houses’ respective committees, the formula for whips, speaking time during debates, and the number of Members that will serve on a committee.

“Whips are important figures in the parliamentary system as they are responsible for discipline within the political parties and ensuring that Members attend and participate in parliamentary sessions. The formula for whips is a strategic determination that influences the dynamics of parliamentary proceedings. On the other hand, setting of speaking times is crucial for maintaining order and decorum in the Houses and ensuring that discussions are productive and focused,” Parliament said.

Constituting the oversight committees is guided by the Cabinet portfolios designated by the President as the committees exercise oversight over each government department.

Parliament said committees are essential in scrutinising the work of government, providing a platform for debate, and ensuring accountability.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa in consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) Thoko Didiza and the Chairperson of the NCOP Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane will set the date for the Opening of Parliament Address (OPA).

“The OPA is an important ceremony in the form of a joint sitting of the two Houses that marks the official opening of the seventh Parliament. Unlike the State of the Nation Address that takes place annually in February, the OPA occurs once every five years after elections to announce the new administration’s plans, and it marks the beginning of the new parliamentary term,” Parliament said.

The joint sitting for the Opening of Parliament Address will be at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in light of the ongoing construction.

The CTICC has been chosen for its capacity, convenience and proximity to the Parliament precinct.

Programme of the new Parliament

Once all the structures of the two Houses are established, the Joint Programming Committee will convene to deliberate on the parliamentary programme.

“The Joint Programming Committee plays a vital role in laying the groundwork for a productive legislative session as it is responsible for drawing up a programme for the first term of the new Parliament. The programme outlines the schedule and priorities for parliamentary activities, ensuring a structured and efficient approach to legislative and oversight responsibilities,” Parliament said.

Orientation programme for MPs

The newly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) will also undergo a structured orientation programme from 2 July to 5 July to induct them into their new roles.

The programme will cover a wide range of topics, including an introduction to the core business of Parliament, the roles and responsibilities of Members and Office Bearers, an overview of MPs’ ethics and disclosures, the Rules guiding the operations of each House, and those that guide Joint Sittings.

“Following the success of the first sittings of the two Houses, the seventh parliamentary administration is ready to take the reins and ensure that Parliament fulfils its constitutional mandate of oversight over the executive and providing a platform for the voice of South Africans in government policy and implementation,” Parliament said.

Meetings and activities scheduled for this week are as follows:

  • On Wednesday, both Houses will hold their respective Rules Committee meetings. The NCOP Rules Committee meeting will start at 10:00, and the NA Rules Committee meeting is scheduled for 15:00.
  • On Thursday at 14:00, the NCOP will convene a hybrid plenary to elect various office bearers for the seventh Parliament, including the Permanent Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, the Rotating Deputy Chairperson, the Programming Whip, the House Chairperson for Committees and Oversight, the House Chairperson for Parliamentary Diplomacy, the House Chairperson for Internal Arrangements and Members Support, and several other critical positions.
  • During the same session, the Council will also hold elections for the NCOP Permanent Delegates (MPs) to the Pan-African Parliament. Additionally, they will designate members to serve in the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum, the Judicial Services Commission, the Magistrates Commission, and the Political Office-Bearers Pension Fund Trustee. The Council will also consider and deliberate on the revival of the Appropriations Bill.
  • On the same day the Council will convene in the morning and hold the Programming Committee at 08:30. The Programming Committee considers Bills before the House, committee reports and plans the business of the House and the programme. On Friday, the NA at 10:00 will hold its programming meeting.
  • The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) will convene its first of the two annual Plenary Sessions from 24 June to 5 July 2024 at the PAP precinct in Midrand. Among the critical items for discussion and consideration is the budget for the PAP to enable the institution to function optimally.
“Parliament Organizes Internal Structures”