The National Assembly (NA) Rules Committee, which met for the first time since the establishment of the House on 22 May 2019, discussed and agreed on a range of issues related to optimal functioning of the House. In terms of the Rules of the Assembly, the Rules Committee has a crucial role in the establishment or setting up of structures of the House. The committee is chaired by the National Assembly Speaker, Ms Thandi Modise.
Amongst issues discussed were guidelines and determinations for regular items on the agenda of NA plenary sittings, such as, the sequence for party participation in oral questions sessions with the President, Deputy President and Cabinet Ministers; establishing the Subcommittee on NA Rules and establishing portfolio and standing committees.
In terms of the Assembly rules, the Speaker must, with the concurrence of the Rules Committee, establish a range of portfolio committees and assign a portfolio of government affairs to each committee, as well as determine a name and the composition in each case.
With the announcement of the reconfigured Cabinet by the President recently, the number of government portfolios have been reduced from 36 to 28. Portfolio committees will be composed of 11 Members: 6 from the ANC, 2 from the DA, 1 from the EFF and 2 from other parties. These committees will soon hold their first meetings to select their chairpersons and determine their programmes.
Proposals to establish an oversight committee on the Presidency would be scheduled for discussion at a later date.
Parliament will also determine its representation in various statutory and international bodies. These includes the Pan-African Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Judicial Services Commission and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Amongst the crucial committees to be established is the NA Programme Committee, which is also chaired by the NA Speaker and is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Thursday to determine the programme of the House.
The appointment of party whips was also discussed and agreed to. There would be a total of 62 whips drawn from the 400-seat NA. The African National Congress with 230 seats would have 35 whips, the Democratic Alliance with 84 seats would have 13 whips, the Economic Freedom Fighters with 44 seats would have seven whips, the Inkatha Freedom Party with 14 seats would have two whips, as would the Freedom Front Plus with 10 seats, the African Christian Democratic Party with four seats would have one whip and the smaller parties would be allocated two whips.
Whips are members of political parties selected to assist in organising party business, in keeping members informed about party and parliamentary business, ensuring members attend committee meetings and House plenary sittings and take part in debates in plenary sittings.
Issued by: Parliament of South Africa