National Assembly set up structures and committees for 7th Parliament

Parliament, Thursday, 26 June 2024 – The Rules Committee of the National Assembly (NA) held its first meeting on Wednesday and made several key determinations on setting up internal structures. Among them were the establishment and decision on the composition of the Programme Committee and the Subcommittee on the Review of NA Rules.

The Committee also determined the size of the portfolio committees in the NA. Other determinations made include the formula for the appointment of whips, and the sequence of questions and motions.

Rule 193 of the Assembly enjoins the Rules Committee to make several determinations necessary for the House to function at the start of every parliamentary term. In terms of Rule 193 (1)(a), the Rules Committee may develop and formulate policy proposals concerning the exclusive business of the Assembly in respect of the proceedings, procedures, rules, orders, and practices.
As a pre-eminent committee of the Assembly, the Rules Committee is responsible for developing the procedures and policies according to which the House operates.
The Committee agreed to appoint nine members to constitute the Subcommittee on the Review of the NA Rules. The Subcommittee is not a decision-making structure and is mainly technical, and therefore need not be proportional. The subcommittee will comprise three ANC members and one member per party from the Democratic Alliance (DA), uMkhonto Wesizwe Party (MKP), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), respectively, and three from the other smaller parties.

Composition and Configuration of Portfolio Committees

The Rules Committee also determined that portfolio committees will now be composed of 15 members per committee to allow parties fair representation. In the 6th Parliament, portfolio committees comprised 11 members. The decision was informed by the increase in the number of political parties represented in the NA from 14 in the previous parliamentary term to 18 parties in the current term.

As such, the African National Congress (ANC) will have five representatives in each portfolio committee, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will have three, uMkhonto Wesizwe Party (MK) two, and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will have one. Smaller parties will have four seats in each committee and will decide among themselves which respective parties will take the four available seats in each committee.

The configuration of portfolio committees in the 7th Parliament will depend on the configuration of the Cabinet, which the Leader of Government Business must confirm to Parliament.

Establishment of the Programme Committee
The committee also established the National Assembly Programme Committee and determined the number of party representatives to a total of 29 members.
Assembly Rule 206 prescribes the composition of the Programme Committee to include the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Leader of Government Business or a designated representative, House Chairpersons, the Chief Whip (of the Majority Party in the Assembly), the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party in the Assembly, and other Assembly members as determined by the Speaker.

In addition to the composition prescribed in Rule 206 (a) to (g) the committee determined the number of party representatives as follows:
• ANC – 1,
• the Chief Whip of the Opposition and 2 other members of the DA,
• MK – 2,
• EFF – 2,
• and other parties represented in the Assembly 1 each, totalling (14).
The Programme Committee meets weekly when Parliament is in session and decides the agenda of the House for the forthcoming week. The Committee will convene its first meeting on Friday, 28 June at 10:00 in the M26 Meeting Room of the Marks Building in Parliament.

The meeting also deliberated on the formula for the appointment of whips, the sequence of questions, and motions. Some terminologies and definitions such as ‘majority party’, ‘leader of the opposition’ and others will also be reviewed by the Subcommittee, including the composition of the Rules Committee itself.


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