First Sitting of Seventh Parliament: ‘We are ready’

14 June 2024 | SANews


It is all systems go, declared the Secretary to Parliament, Mr Xolile George, as he updated the media on the parliamentary administration’s readiness to host the first sitting of the seventh Parliament.

“We are and have been competent and ready to do so for some time now,” he said.

The preparation of the first sitting of both the seventh National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces started in earnest way before the dissolution of the sixth Parliamernt, Mr George told members of the media. “Over the past months, the administration of Parliament has undertaken extensive preparatory work to ensure a seamless transition from the sixth term to the seventh term of Parliament. This has been a pivotal moment for us as a nation, involving a delicate constitutional process that has not been without its challenges,” he said.

“Today marks a significant moment in our nation’s democratic journey,” he continued, “as we stand on the cusp of inaugurating the seventh term of our democratic Parliament. The first sittings of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces represent not only the establishment of this new parliamentary term but also the institutionalisation and expression of the electoral will of the people of South Africa as voiced in the recent elections,” he said.



This first sitting is important, Mr George explained, as it will oversee the election of the new presiding officers of Parliament and the President, who will form the seventh administration that will govern our nation.

Preparing for this event would not be possible, Mr George said, without the collaboration of the three arms of the state. All stakeholders have followed the prescripts of the Constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Act to surmount all challenges and ensure a successful inaugural sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.

Mr George also mentioned the important role played by the Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in establishing the new parliamentary term. It is the Chief Justice’s responsibility to determine the dates for the first sittings of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces and to preside over these sittings.

The Chief Justice has diligently complied with these constitutional obligations, ensuring that the two Houses of Parliament hold their first sittings within the prescribed 14-day period, as mandated by the Constitution. In accordance with the dates thus gazetted, the National Assembly is scheduled to hold its first sitting tomorrow, Friday, 14 June, followed by the National Council of Provinces on Saturday, 15 June.

These inaugural sittings will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), as the parliamentary precinct is undergoing renovation after the fire that damaged several buildings in 2022. The CTICC has been officially handed over to Parliament and declared part of the precinct of Parliament. “All the provisions of the Powers and Privileges of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act apply to this venue, ensuring that parliamentary procedures and security measures are fully upheld,” Secretary George explained.

He further explained that the CTICC was chosen for this occasion over Cape Town’s City Hall due to its greater capacity to accommodate the approximately 400 Members of Parliament along with their guests. In addition, Mr George stated, the CTICC offers ample space to facilitate the group swearing-in of new Members and is well-suited to meet the specific space requirements necessary for the voting procedures, which will ensure that all Members can participate efficiently, freely and securely in exercising their constitutional mandates.

To familiarise new Members of Parliament with the parliamentary proceedings, rules and legislation, new MPs are being taken through an induction programme to ensure that they are well-prepared and informed about the procedures and responsibilities they will encounter.

The order of proceedings during the first sitting of Parliament are as follows. First, the swearing-in of the new Members of Parliament will take place. This will be followed by the election of the Speaker of the National Assembly, which will be presided over by the Chief Justice. Thereafter, the Speaker will preside over the election of his/her deputy. Then, the House will elect the President who will be sworn in by the Chief Justice. The tentative date for the inauguration of the elected President is 19 June. 

The Secretary expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders of three arms of the state who have been instrumental in this preparatory process. “Their collaboration and support have been invaluable in ensuring that we are ready to welcome and accommodate the new Members of Parliament and to facilitate these historic sessions,” he said. He commended the comprehensive preparations that have ensured that, “every aspect of these inaugural sessions, from logistical arrangements to security measures, have been meticulously planned and implemented”.

He concluded by saying: “We are confident that the proceedings will unfold smoothly and effectively, marking the successful commencement of the seventh democratic Parliament.”


 

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