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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Chapter 4 - Parliament

Composition of Parliament

42. (1) Parliament consists of

(2) The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces participate in the legislative process in the manner set out in the Constitution.

(3) The National Assembly is elected to represent the people and to ensure government by the people under the Constitution. It does this by choosing the President, by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, by passing legislation and by scrutinizing and overseeing executive action.

(4) The National Council of Provinces represents the provinces to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government. It does this mainly by participating in the national legislative process and by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues affecting the provinces.

(5) The President may summon Parliament to an extraordinary sitting at any time to conduct special business.

(6) The seat of Parliament is Cape Town, but an Act of Parliament enacted in accordance with section 76(1) and (5) may determine that the seat of Parliament is elsewhere.

Legislative authority of the Republic

43. In the Republic, the legislative authority

National legislative authority

44. (1) The national legislative authority as vested in Parliament

i     to amend the Constitution;

ii     to pass legislation with regard to any matter, including a matter within a functional area listed in Schedule 4, but excluding, subject to subsection (2), a matter within a functional area listed in Schedule 5; and

iii     to assign any of its legislative powers, except the power to amend the Constitution, to any legislative body in another sphere of government; and

i     to participate in amending the Constitution in accordance with section 74;

ii     to pass, in accordance with section 76, legislation with regard to any matter within a functional area listed in Schedule 4 and any other matter required by the Constitution to be passed in accordance with section 76; and

iii     to consider, in accordance with section 75, any other legislation passed by the National Assembly.

(2) Parliament may intervene, by passing legislation in accordance with section 76(1), with regard to a matter falling within a functional area listed in Schedule 5, when it is necessary

(3) Legislation with regard to a matter that is reasonably necessary for, or incidental to, the effective exercise of a power concerning any matter listed in Schedule 4 is, for all purposes, legislation with regard to a matter listed in Schedule 4.

(4) When exercising its legislative authority, Parliament is bound only by the Constitution, and must act in accordance with, and within the limits of, the Constitution.

Joint rules and orders and joint committees

45. (1) The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces must establish a joint rules committee to make rules and orders concerning the joint business of the Assembly and Council, including rules and orders

i     the joint rules committee;

ii     the Mediation Committee;

iii     the constitutional review committee; and

iv     any joint committees established in terms of paragraph (b).

(2) Cabinet members, members of the National Assembly and delegates to the National Council of Provinces have the same privileges and immunities before a joint committee of the Assembly and the Council as they have before the Assembly or the Council.

The National Assembly

Composition and election

46. (1) The National Assembly consists of no fewer than 350 and no more than 400 women and men elected as members in terms of an electoral system that

(2) An Act of Parliament must provide a formula for determining the number of members of the National Assembly.

Membership

47. (1) Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly, except

i     the President, Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers; and

ii     other office-bearers whose functions are compatible with the functions of a member of the Assembly, and have been declared compatible with those functions by national legislation;

(2) A person who is not eligible to be a member of the National Assembly in terms of subsection (1)(a) or (b) may be a candidate for the Assembly, subject to any limits or conditions established by national legislation.

(3) A person loses membership of the National Assembly if that person

(4) Vacancies in the National Assembly must be filled in terms of national legislation.

Oath or affirmation

48. Before members of the National Assembly begin to perform their functions in the Assembly, they must swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution, in accordance with Schedule 2.

Duration of National Assembly

49. (1) The National Assembly is elected for a term of five years.

(2) If the National Assembly is dissolved in terms of section 50, or when its term expires, the President, by proclamation, must call and set dates for an election, which must be held within 90 days of the date the Assembly was dissolved or its term expired.

(3) If the result of an election of the National Assembly is not declared within the period established in terms of section 190, or if an election is set aside by a court, the President, by proclamation, must call and set dates for another election, which must be held within 90 days of the expiry of that period or of the date on which the election was set aside.

(4) The National Assembly remains competent to function from the time it is dissolved or its term expires, until the day before the first day of polling for the next Assembly.

Dissolution of National Assembly before expiry of its term

50. (1) The President must dissolve the National Assembly if

(2) The Acting President must dissolve the National Assembly if

Sittings and recess periods

51. (1) After an election, the first sitting of the National Assembly must take place at a time and on a date determined by the President of the Constitutional Court, but not more than 14 days after the election result has been declared. The Assembly may determine the time and duration of its other sittings and its recess periods.

(2) The President may summon the National Assembly to an extraordinary sitting at any time to conduct special business.

(3) Sittings of the National Assembly are permitted at places other than the seat of Parliament only on the grounds of public interest, security or convenience, and if provided for in the rules and orders of the Assembly.

Speaker and Deputy Speaker

52. (1) At the first sitting after its election, or when necessary to fill a vacancy, the National Assembly must elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members.

(2) The President of the Constitutional Court must preside over the election of a Speaker, or designate another judge to do so. The Speaker presides over the election of a Deputy Speaker.

(3) The procedure set out in Part A of Schedule 3 applies to the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

(4) The National Assembly may remove the Speaker or Deputy Speaker from office by resolution. A majority of the members of the Assembly must be present when the resolution is adopted.

(5) In terms of its rules and orders, the National Assembly may elect from among its members other presiding officers to assist the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

Decisions

53. (1) Except where the Constitution provides otherwise

(2) The member of the National Assembly presiding at a meeting of the Assembly has no deliberative vote, but

Rights of certain Cabinet members in National Assembly

54. The President and any member of the Cabinet who is not a member of the National Assembly may attend, and may speak in, the Assembly, but may not vote.

Powers of National Assembly

55. (1) In exercising its legislative power, the National Assembly may

(2) The National Assembly must provide for mechanisms

i     the exercise of national executive authority, including the implementation of legislation; and

ii     any organ of state.

Evidence or information before National Assembly

56. The National Assembly or any of its committees may

Internal arrangements, proceedings and procedures of National Assembly

57. (1) The National Assembly may

(2) The rules and orders of the National Assembly must provide for

Privilege

58. (1) Cabinet members and members of the National Assembly

i     anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Assembly or any of its committees; or

ii     anything revealed as a result of anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Assembly or any of its committees.

(2) Other privileges and immunities of the National Assembly, Cabinet members and members of the Assembly may be prescribed by national legislation.

(3) Salaries, allowances and benefits payable to members of the National Assembly are a direct charge against the National Revenue Fund.

Public access to and involvement in National Assembly

59. (1) The National Assembly must

i     to regulate public access, including access of the media, to the Assembly and its committees; and

ii     to provide for the searching of any person and,where appropriate, the refusal of entry to, or the removal of, any person.

(2) The National Assembly may not exclude the public, including the media, from a sitting of a committee unless it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society.

National Council of Provinces

Composition of National Council

60. (1) The National Council of Provinces is composed of a single delegation from each province consisting of ten delegates.

(2) The ten delegates are

i     the Premier of the province or, if the Premier is not available, any member of the provincial legislature designated by the Premier either generally or for any specific business before the National Council of Provinces; and

ii     three other special delegates; and

(3) The Premier of a province, or if the Premier is not available, a member of the province's delegation designated by the Premier, heads the delegation.

Allocation of delegates

61. (1) Parties represented in a provincial legislature are entitled to delegates in the province's delegation in accordance with the formula set out in Part B of Schedule 3.

(2) Within 30 days after the result of an election of a provincial legislature is declared, the legislature must

(3) The national legislation envisaged in subsection (2)(a) must ensure the participation of minority parties in both the permanent and special delegates' components of the delegation in a manner consistent with democracy.

(4) The legislature, with the concurrence of the Premier and the leaders of the parties entitled to special delegates in the province's delegation, must designate special delegates, as required from time to time, from among the members of the legislature.

Permanent delegates

62. (1) A person nominated as a permanent delegate must be eligible to be a member of the provincial legislature.

(2) If a person who is a member of a provincial legislature is appointed as a permanent delegate, that person ceases to be a member of the legislature.

(3) Permanent delegates are appointed for a term that expires immediately before the first sitting of the provincial legislature after its next election.

(4) A person ceases to be a permanent delegate if that person

(5) Vacancies among the permanent delegates must be filled in terms of national legislation.

(6) Before permanent delegates begin to perform their functions in the National Council of Provinces, they must swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution, in accordance with Schedule 2.

Sittings of National Council

63. (1) The National Council of Provinces may determine the time and duration of its sittings and its recess periods.

(2) The President may summon the National Council of Provinces to an extraordinary sitting at any time to conduct special business.

(3) Sittings of the National Council of Provinces are permitted at places other than the seat of Parliament only on the grounds of public interest, security or convenience, and if provided for in the rules and orders of the Council.

Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons

64. (1) The National Council of Provinces must elect a Chairperson and two Deputy Chairpersons from among the delegates.

(2) The Chairperson and one of the Deputy Chairpersons are elected from among the permanent delegates for five years unless their terms as delegates expire earlier.

(3) The other Deputy Chairperson is elected for a term of one year, and must be succeeded by a delegate from another province, so that every province is represented in turn.

(4) The President of the Constitutional Court must preside over the election of the Chairperson, or designate another judge to do so. The Chairperson presides over the election of the Deputy Chairpersons.

(5) The procedure set out in Part A of Schedule 3 applies to the election of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairpersons.

(6) The National Council of Provinces may remove the Chairperson or a Deputy Chairperson from office.

(7) In terms of its rules and orders, the National Council of Provinces may elect from among the delegates other presiding officers to assist the Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons.

Decisions

65. (1) Except where the Constitution provides otherwise

(2) An Act of Parliament, enacted in accordance with the procedure established by either subsection (1) or subsection (2) of section 76, must provide for a uniform procedure in terms of which provincial legislatures confer authority on their delegations to cast votes on their behalf.

Participation by members of national executive

66. (1) Cabinet members and Deputy Ministers may attend, and may speak in, the National Council of Provinces, but may not vote.

(2) The National Council of Provinces may require a Cabinet member, a Deputy Minister or an official in the national executive or a provincial executive to attend a meeting of the Council or a committee of the Council.

Participation by local government representatives

67. Not more than ten part-time representatives designated by organised local government in terms of section 163, to represent the different categories of municipalities, may participate when necessary in the proceedings of the National Council of Provinces, but may not vote.

Powers of National Council

68. In exercising its legislative power, the National Council of Provinces may

Schedule 4 or other legislation referred to in section 76(3), but may not initiate or prepare money Bills.

Evidence or information before National Council

69. The National Council of Provinces or any of its committees may

Internal arrangements, proceedings and procedures of National Council

70. (1) The National Council of Provinces may

(2) The rules and orders of the National Council of Provinces must provide for

Privilege

71. (1) Delegates to the National Council of Provinces and the persons referred to in sections 66 and 67

i     anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Council or any of its committees; or

ii     anything revealed as a result of anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Council or any of its committees.

(2) Other privileges and immunities of the National Council of Provinces, delegates to the Council and persons referred to in sections 66 and 67 may be prescribed by national legislation.

(3) Salaries, allowances and benefits payable to permanent members of the National Council of Provinces are a direct charge against the National Revenue Fund.

Public access to and involvement in National Council

72. (1) The National Council of Provinces must

i     to regulate public access, including access of the media, to the Council and its committees; and

ii     to provide for the searching of any person and, where appropriate, the refusal of entry to, or the removal of, any person.

(2) The National Council of Provinces may not exclude the public, including the media, from a sitting of a committee unless it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society.

National Legislative Process

All Bills

73. (1) Any Bill may be introduced in the National Assembly.

(2) Only a Cabinet member or a Deputy Minister, or a member or committee of the National Assembly, may introduce a Bill in the Assembly; but only the Cabinet member responsible for national financial matters may introduce a money Bill in the Assembly.

(3) A Bill referred to in section 76(3), except a money Bill, may be introduced in the National Council of Provinces.

(4) Only a member or committee of the National Council of Provinces may introduce a Bill in the Council.

(5) A Bill passed by the National Assembly must be referred to the National Council of Provinces if it must be considered by the Council. A Bill passed by the Council must be referred to the Assembly.

Bills amending the Constitution

74. (1) Section 1 and this subsection may be amended by a Bill passed by

(2) Chapter 2 may be amended by a Bill passed by

(3) Any other provision of the Constitution may be amended by a Bill passed

i     relates to a matter that affects the Council;

ii     alters provincial boundaries, powers, functions or institutions; or

iii     amends a provision that deals specifically with a provincial matter.

(4) A Bill amending the Constitution may not include provisions other than constitutional amendments and matters connected with the amendments.

(5) At least 30 days before a Bill amending the Constitution is introduced in terms of section 73(2), the person or committee intending to introduce the Bill must

(6) When a Bill amending the Constitution is introduced, the person or committee introducing the Bill must submit any written comments received from the public and the provincial legislatures

(7) A Bill amending the Constitution may not be put to the vote in the National Assembly within 30 days of

(8) If a Bill referred to in subsection (3)(b), or any part of the Bill, concerns only a specific province or provinces, the National Council of Provinces may not pass the Bill or the relevant part unless it has been approved by the legislature or legislatures of the province or provinces concerned.

(9) A Bill amending the Constitution that has been passed by the National Assembly and, where applicable, by the National Council of Provinces, must be referred to the President for assent.

Ordinary Bills not affecting provinces

75. (1) When the National Assembly passes a Bill other than a Bill to which the procedure set out in section 74 or 76 applies, the Bill must be referred to the National Council of Provinces and dealt with in accordance with the following procedure:

i     pass the Bill;

ii     pass the Bill subject to amendments proposed by it; or

iii     reject the Bill.

i     pass the Bill again, either with or without amendments; or

ii     decide not to proceed with the Bill.

(2) When the National Council of Provinces votes on a question in terms of this section, section 65 does not apply; instead

Ordinary Bills affecting provinces

76. (1) When the National Assembly passes a Bill referred to in subsection (3), (4) or (5), the Bill must be referred to the National Council of Provinces and dealt with in accordance with the following procedure:

i     pass the Bill;

ii     pass an amended Bill; or

iii     reject the Bill.

i     the Bill as passed by the Assembly;

ii     the amended Bill as passed by the Council; or

iii     another version of the Bill.

(2) When the National Council of Provinces passes a Bill referred to in subsection (3), the Bill must be referred to the National Assembly and dealt with in accordance with the following procedure:

i     pass the Bill;

ii     pass an amended Bill; or

iii     reject the Bill.

i     the Bill as passed by the Council;

ii     the amended Bill as passed by the Assembly; or

iii     another version of the Bill.

(3) A Bill must be dealt with in accordance with the procedure established by either subsection (1) or subsection (2) if it falls within a functional area listed in Schedule 4 or provides for legislation envisaged in any of the following sections:

(4) A Bill must be dealt with in accordance with the procedure established by subsection (1) if it provides for legislation

in Chapter 13, and which affects the financial interests of the provincial sphere of government.

(5) A Bill envisaged in section 42(6) must be dealt with in accordance with the procedure established by subsection (1), except that

i     If the National Assembly considers a Bill envisaged in subsection (1) (g) or (h), that Bill may be passed only if a majority of the members of the Assembly vote in favour of it.

ii     If the National Assembly considers or reconsiders a Bill envisaged in subsection (1)(e), (i) or (j), that Bill may be passed only if at least two thirds of the members of the Assembly vote in favour of it.

(6) This section does not apply to money Bills.

Money Bills

77. (1) A Bill that appropriates money or imposes taxes, levies or duties is a money Bill. A money Bill may not deal with any other matter except a subordinate matter incidental to the appropriation of money or the imposition of taxes, levies or duties.

(2) All money Bills must be considered in accordance with the procedure established by section 75. An Act of Parliament must provide for a procedure to amend money Bills before Parliament.

Mediation Committee

78. (1) The Mediation Committee consists of

(2) The Mediation Committee has agreed on a version of a Bill, or decided a question, when that version, or one side of the question, is supported by

Assent to Bills

79. (1) The President must either assent to and sign a Bill passed in terms of this Chapter or, if the President has reservations about the constitutionality of the Bill, refer it back to the National Assembly for reconsideration.

(2) The joint rules and orders must provide for the procedure for the reconsideration of a Bill by the National Assembly and the participation of the National Council of Provinces in the process.

(3) The National Council of Provinces must participate in the reconsideration of a Bill that the President has referred back to the National Assembly if

(4) If, after reconsideration, a Bill fully accommodates the President's reservations, the President must assent to and sign the Bill; if not, the President must either

(5) If the Constitutional Court decides that the Bill is constitutional, the President must assent to and sign it.

Application by members of National Assembly to Constitutional Court

80. (1) Members of the National Assembly may apply to the Constitutional Court for an order declaring that all or part of an Act of Parliament is unconstitutional.

(2) An application

(3) The Constitutional Court may order that all or part of an Act that is the subject of an application in terms of subsection (1) has no force until the Court has decided the application if

(4) If an application is unsuccessful, and did not have a reasonable prospect of success, the Constitutional Court may order the applicants to pay costs.

Publication of Acts

81. A Bill assented to and signed by the President becomes an Act of Parliament, must be published promptly, and takes effect when published or on a date determined in terms of the Act.

Safekeeping of Acts of Parliament

82. The signed copy of an Act of Parliament is conclusive evidence of the provisions of that Act and, after publication, must be entrusted to the Constitutional Court for safekeeping.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.