Time for real work to begin as opening of parliament looms

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 and the 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,” Parliament said.

“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 speaking times is crucial for maintaining order and decorum in the houses and ensuring that discussions are productive and focused.”

Opening of parliament address

The president’s designated cabinet portfolios serve as a guide for creating the oversight committees, which have oversight authority over each department of the government.

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 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 OPA will be at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in light of the ongoing construction.

The convention centre 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,” parliament said.

“The programme outlines the schedule and priorities for parliamentary activities, ensuring a structured and efficient approach to legislative and oversight responsibilities.”

The newly elected MPs will also undergo a structured orientation programme from July 2-5 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.” – SAnews.gov.za

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