Parliament, Friday, 10 May 2019– Following months of intense preparations for the establishment of the Sixth Democratic Parliament, Parliament is ready to welcome new Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. With the election results scheduled for announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission soon, the list of candidates of political parties will be handed over by the Chief Justice to Parliament ahead of their swearing in as Members of Parliament.
According to the Constitution of South Africa both Houses of Parliament must be established within fourteen (14) days of the IEC’s declaring results of the election, and this takes place at the first sittings of each of these Houses. The Chief Justice of South Africa has the powers, under the Constitution, to determine the dates and times of these first sittings and presides over key aspects of them.
The first sitting of the National Assembly is provisionally scheduled for 22 May and that of the National Council of Provinces for 23 May. These dates are subject to official announcement by the Chief Justice.
At the NA first sitting, the Chief Justice will preside over each Member of the National Assembly’s swearing in or affirmation of faithfulness to the Republic of South Africa and obedience to the Constitution. The House may be constituted of no fewer than 350 and no more than 400 members.
The Chief Justice will also preside over election of the Speaker of the National Assembly, who will preside over the election of the Deputy Speaker.
In the same House sitting, the Chief Justice will then preside over the election of the President, selected from amongst the Members of Parliament in the National Assembly. The President, once elected, ceases to be a Member of Parliament and must take up office within five days of being elected.
In the same vein, during the NCOP first sitting, the Chief Justice will preside over the swearing in or affirmation of faithfulness to the Republic of South Africa and obedience to the Constitution from the House’s permanent delegates. He will then also preside over election of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, who is selected from the permanent delegates. As with the National Assembly, the NCOP Chairperson will then preside over election of the Deputy Chairperson, House Chairpersons and the Chief Whip.
Prior to the first sitting of the NCOP taking place, each of the Provincial Legislatures must have held their first sittings and sworn in their Members. Thereafter, the provincial legislatures must appoint their permanent delegates to the NCOP (10 delegates from each province). Four of the ten delegates are special delegates and six are permanent delegates.
Political parties are entitled to delegates in proportion of their representation. If a person who is a member of the provincial legislature is appointed as a permanent delegate, that person ceases to be a member of the provincial legislature. And this is how the proportional representation applies (90 permanent delegates/seats) to the National Council of Provinces versus 400 MPs/seats of the National Assembly.
Upon conclusion of these processes and various other logistical arrangements involving the three arms of State (The Presidency, the Judiciary and the legislature), the newly elected President of the Republic of South Africa is expected to deliver the State of the Nation Address of the Sixth Democratic Parliament to a joint sitting of both Houses. The date of the SONA is provisionally scheduled for 20 June 2019. The President and the Presiding Officers of Parliament will determine and decide on the date.
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