Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,

  1. Introduction

Today marks a significant moment in our nation’s democratic journey 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.

The people have spoken. They have chosen a Parliament that will represent them, as freely elected representatives as reflected in the preamble of the Constitution, to champion their causes, and serve their interests for the next five years. This Parliament will not only legislate and oversee the functions of the state but will also elect a President who will form the seventh administration to govern our nation.

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.

Working collaboratively with the Executive and the Judiciary, we have surmounted these challenges to ensure the success of these important inaugural sittings of the two Houses of Parliament. This collective effort underscores our commitment to upholding the democratic principles underpinning our Constitution and ensuring that the will of the people is effectively translated into action.

With each step in this constitutional process – from the elections, the declaration of results, and the designation of elected Members by the IEC to the handover of the list to us by the Chief Justice – having been meticulously followed and adhered to, we now stand at the cusp of yet another critical milestone in the history of our constitutional democracy. This diligent adherence to our constitutional framework ensures the legitimacy and integrity of our parliamentary system, paving the way for a new term that reflects the electoral will of the South African people.

  1. Dates of first sittings set by Chief Justice

Under the Constitution of the Republic, the Chief Justice plays an important role in the establishment of a new term of Parliament. 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.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo 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 he has 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).

  1. Declaration of CTICC as Precincts of Parliament As of yesterday, 12 June, the CTICC has been officially handed over to Parliament and declared the precinct of Parliament. Consequently, 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.

The CTICC has been selected primarily for its capacity to comfortably accommodate the approximately 400 Members of Parliament along with their guests. This venue offers ample space to facilitate the group swearing-in of new Members, providing a dignified and orderly setting for this important constitutional process. Additionally, the CTICC’s extensive facilities are well-suited to meet the specific space requirements necessary for the voting procedures, which will ensure that all Members can participate efficiently and securely.

  1. Reception of New Members

Since receiving the list of candidates from the Chief Justice, Parliament has been interfacing with the elected Members and their respective parties to capture their details into the parliamentary system and making logistical arrangements for their travel and accommodation. Registrations began yesterday, and we have successfully registered and onboarded Members. This process continues today and tomorrow here at the CTICC. As part of the registration, parliamentary identification cards are being issued, which are essential for accessing the Chamber and the parliamentary precinct for the first sittings.
Additionally, Members are being taken through an induction programme to familiarise them with the rules and constitutional processes that will unfold during the first sittings. This programme is designed to ensure that all Members are well-prepared and informed about the procedures and responsibilities they will encounter.

A special help desk has been established to assist Members and their guests with any enquiries or issues they may encounter.

  1. First Sitting of the National Council of Provinces

On 15 June, the first sitting of the NCOP will take place here at the CTICC. The Chief Justice will open the session and preside over the swearing-in of all the permanent delegates appointed by their respective provinces. This will follow the first sittings of the provincial legislatures to elect permanent and non-permanent delegates to the NCOP.

After presiding over the swearing-in of the 54 designated permanent delegates, the Chief Justice will also chair the election of the Chairperson of the Council. Once elected, the new Chairperson will take over the proceedings and preside over the election of the Deputy Chairpersons. The House is mandated to appoint one permanent Deputy Chairperson and a second Deputy Chairperson on a one-year rotational basis.

  1. First Sitting of the National Assembly

The first sitting of the National Assembly will commence with the swearing-in of all designated Members in attendance by the Chief Justice.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Chief Justice will also preside over the election of the Speaker of the National Assembly. Once elected, the newly appointed Speaker will take over the proceedings and preside over the election of the Deputy Speaker. These elections are crucial for the proper constitution of the National Assembly, as they ensure the leadership structure is in place to guide the House’s functions and duties.

With the Speaker and Deputy Speaker elected, the National Assembly will then be constitutionally competent to proceed with its first major task – the election of the man or woman from amongst the Members of the Assembly, to be inaugurated as the President of the Republic. This is a crucial process, as it sets the stage for the formation of the new administration that will govern the country. Once elected, the person ceases to be a Member of Parliament.

  1. Swearing-in Procedure

For the swearing-in, members will be called in groups of 10 and provided with a form containing the wording of the oath or affirmation in the official language of their choice. Each member will read the wording out loud during the swearing-in ceremony.

  1. Supplementation and Filing of Vacancies

In accordance with the provisions of the Act, political parties may supplement or fill any vacancies that may occur on their candidates’ lists prior to the swearing-in at the first sitting of the National Assembly. This ensures that all designated seats are filled and that parties are fully represented. As of this morning, we have received indications from the concerned political parties regarding both the supplementation and filling of vacancies, totalling 20 Members.
The following changes have been made to the party lists: the MK Party (7 Members), the EFF (10 Members), ACTION SA (1 Member), DA (1 Member) and the UDM (1 Member).

  1. Voting Infrastructure

All necessary voting infrastructure has been meticulously prepared to ensure a smooth and secure election process. This includes the setup of voting booths for privacy, the provision of ballot boxes for the collection of votes, the preparation of the voters roll to verify eligible voters, and the availability of safety boxes for the secure safekeeping of ballot papers. These measures have been put in place to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the voting process, ensuring that every vote is properly accounted for and securely stored.

  1. Voting Procedures

The election procedure for the Presiding Officers of Parliament and the President follows a procedure outlined in the Constitution.
The Constitution stipulates that for any vote to be taken on questions before the Assembly, at least one-third of the members must be present. Additionally, all questions before the Assembly are decided by a majority of the votes cast.

As part of voting, the Presiding Officer will announce the names of the candidates who have been nominated, without allowing any debate. If only one candidate is nominated, the Presiding Officer will declare that candidate elected. However, if more than one candidate is nominated, a vote will be conducted by secret ballot. Each member present, or each province represented in the National Council of Provinces, is entitled to cast one vote. The candidate who receives a majority of the votes will be declared elected by the Presiding Officer.

If no candidate secures a majority of the votes, an elimination procedure is initiated. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and another round of voting takes place with the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until a candidate receives a majority of the votes. In cases where two or more candidates have the lowest number of votes, a separate vote is conducted among them to determine who will be eliminated.

  1. New Feature for First Sitting

A new feature of the first sittings of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces will be the performance of the national anthem by the full complement of the official Parliamentary Choir, consisting of 30 choristers. Additionally, representatives of diverse interfaith groups will offer their blessings at the beginning of the proceedings. This inclusive and ceremonial start aims to reflect the unity and diversity of our nation as we embark on this new term of Parliament.

  1. Presidential Inauguration

The Constitution stipulates that once elected as President by the National Assembly, the President-elect must assume office within five days by taking an oath or affirming their faithfulness to the Republic and their obedience to the Constitution.
After the conclusion of the first sittings, Members will proceed to attend the Inauguration of the President-elect, which is scheduled for 19 June 2024 in Pretoria. Each Member, along with one guest, will receive an official invitation to this important event. Parliament will take care of all travel and accommodation arrangements for the MPs and their guests.

  1. Opening of Parliament Address

Once the President has assumed office and appointed his cabinet, he or she must convene a joint sitting of the newly established two Houses of Parliament to deliver the Opening of Parliament Address (OPA). The OPA marks the start of the new five-year parliamentary term and outlines the government’s agenda, legislative priorities, and key policy directions. This address provides Members of Parliament with a roadmap for the nation’s legislative and policy framework and emphasises the administration’s goals and priorities. The OPA underscores the importance of collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature in addressing national issues and promoting socio-economic development and reflects the President’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and effective governance.

All necessary arrangements have been made as part of the multifaceted 7th Parliament Project to ensure the successful Opening of Parliament Address once the new President of the Republic determines the date. Comprehensive details regarding the state of readiness will be announced closer to the specified date.

  1. Induction Programme for New Members

To ensure that all MPs are well-prepared for their roles, Parliament has organised a comprehensive induction and onboarding programme. This programme is designed to orientate Members on their constitutional responsibilities and other essential aspects of their new roles. It aims to equip them with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively fulfil their duties as representatives of the people.

The four-day induction programme will start on 2 July and run until 5 July, with the venue to be confirmed. 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 members’ ethics and disclosures, and the House Rules and Joint Rules. This thorough induction will provide Members with a solid foundation to navigate their parliamentary duties and uphold the principles of good governance and accountability.

  1. Tools of Trade for New Members

In addition to setting up committees and other structures for the functioning of the new term of Parliament, Members will be allocated homes, offices, and tools of trade to ensure they are fully equipped to perform their duties. During the initial processes of the first sittings, new MPs will be accommodated at various hotels. This arrangement is necessary while Parliament finalises the vacating of parliamentary villages by outgoing MPs, allowing the allocation of homes to new members to commence smoothly.

Regarding office space, the aftermath of the January 2022 fire has led to a significant reconstruction effort. As a result, 155 offices and boardrooms at the 90 Plein Street building have been completed. Further configuration of additional office space is nearing completion and will be finalised by the time MPs conclude their orientation and induction programme.

  1. Budget for Establishment of New Parliament

The establishment of the 7th democratic Parliament involves significant logistical and operational expenditures to ensure a seamless transition and the effective functioning of parliamentary processes. While the actual budget costs for the commencement of the 7th Parliament will be released at a later date, we can confirm that approximately R58 million has been set aside for this purpose. This allocation covers a wide range of necessities, including the preparation of parliamentary precincts, the provision of tools of trade for MPs, the facilitation of initial sessions and inductions, as well as the broadcasting infrastructure for all the dates of the sittings, including the Opening of Parliament Address by the new President.

For context, five years ago, the establishment of the 6th Parliament incurred costs amounting to about R43 million. The increased budget for the 7th Parliament reflects the expanded needs and rising costs associated with ensuring that all Members of Parliament are adequately supported in their roles.

  1. Conclusion

We are fully prepared for the first sittings of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on the dates determined by the Chief Justice of the Republic. Our comprehensive preparations ensure that every aspect of these inaugural sessions, from logistical arrangements to security measures, have been meticulously planned and implemented. We are confident that the proceedings will unfold smoothly and effectively, marking the successful commencement of the 7th democratic Parliament.

We would like to express our gratitude to the key stakeholders who have been instrumental in this preparatory process. Our sincere thanks go to the Office of the Chief Justice, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Security Cluster, the State Security Agency, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, the City of Cape Town, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), the media, and all service providers. 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.


Enquiries :
Moloto Mothapo (Parliament Spokesperson)

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