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Parly pomp. That black rod? All you need to know about this first sitting

2019-05-21 21:29

It’s all systems go for the first sittings of the two houses of Parliament this week – incoming members of Parliament have registered and have been briefed, and on Wednesday South Africa will witness the start of the full establishment of the sixth democratic Parliament.

Ahead of the first sitting of Parliament’s National Assembly, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the other incoming members registered as a member of Parliament on Tuesday. He’s banking on it being a short stay – once he has been officially elected as president by the National Assembly, he will cease being a member of Parliament and will be inaugurated at the inauguration ceremony in Tshwane on Saturday.

Ramaphosa could be announcing his much anticipated Cabinet by Monday, just two days after his inauguration.

This was suggested by the ANC’s new chief whip Pemmy Majodina, who replaced stalwart Jackson Mthembu.

Read: New caucus won’t be lame ducks – new ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina

The ANC decided on its representatives during a national executive committee meeting in Cape Town on Monday.

Former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete was replaced with Thandi Modise, and House chairperson Cedric Frolick was replaced with minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Lechesa Tsenoli will remain as deputy speaker, and Doris Dlakude keeps her position as deputy chief whip.

Modise is replaced as chair of the National Council of Provinces by former Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo.

Nomvula Mokonyane is the new chair of chairs, in charge of chairpersons of all committees.

The National Assembly will have 400 members represented from 14 political parties while the National Council of Provinces will have 10 permanent and non-permanent delegates from each of the nine provinces.

Read: Who’s getting the House in order? Youngsters and oldies will share the benches in Parliament

Seats in the National Assembly are allocated proportionally. The ANC has 230 seats in the National Assembly, the DA has 84, the EFF have 44, followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party on 14 and the Freedom Front Plus on 10. The rest of the seats are divided among the smaller parties.

What to expect

The first sitting of the National Assembly is called by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

It is a formal sitting at which this House of Parliament formally constitutes itself.

Also attending the first sitting of the sixth democratic Parliament will be diplomats and guests of the Presidency, guests of leaders of political parties represented in Parliament, and guests of candidates to be sworn in as MPs.

Cyril Ramaphosa is sworn in as South African president by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Ramaphosa will be sworn in again this week. Picture: Rodger Bosch/Pool via AP

At 10.30am Mogoeng will open the proceedings of the House.

He will swears in the members, who are drawn from candidate lists of political parties that received enough votes in the May general election to qualify for seats.

The National Assembly members are sworn in by in groups of 10. Members must swear or affirm faithfulness to the republic and obedience to the Constitution.

The Chief Justice also presides over the election of the Speaker of the National Assembly and the election of the president, and once the members have been sworn in, Mogoeng will call for the nomination of candidates for the position of Speaker of the National Assembly. If more than one nomination is received, an election will be held by secret ballot. The counting of the ballots will be done in the presence of the chief justice.

Once the Speaker is duly elected, nominations are invited for the position of deputy speaker. The newly elected Speaker presides over this election. If more than one nomination is received for the position of deputy speaker, an election by secret ballot is held.

The House adjourns at around 1pm. At 2pm, when the House reconvenes, the chief justice calls for the nomination of candidates for the position of president. If more than one nomination is made, an election by secret ballot is held. Counting of the ballots is done in the presence of the chief justice. The results will be announced in the House.

On May 23, the first sitting of the National Council of Provinces will be presided over by the chief justice. And this is where the black rod comes in: The usher of the black rod will announce the Chief Justice as he enters the chamber to 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.

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June 16 2019