Fourth parliament gets underway next week

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cape Town - The first steps towards establishing the country's fourth democratic Parliament will get underway on Wednesday 6 May.

Parliament's National Assembly will meet for the first time on Wednesday to swear in its 400 new members, elect Presiding Officers as well as elect the President of the Republic of South Africa.

This follows the successful holding of the fourth democratic elections last week, where millions of South Africans came out in their numbers to vote.

The Members of Parliament, who have been appointed by the different political parties depending on the number of seats they won in the election, are set to be introduced in batches of ten and will be sworn-in, in their language of choice.

According to the Parliamentary Communication Services, committees for both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces will be established in the weeks following the first sittings of Parliament's two Houses.

"These committees are the primary vehicles through which Parliament exercises its Constitutional roles of law-making, oversight over government and facilitating public participation in national issues affecting South Africa," explains Parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs.

A total of 13 political parties will be represented in the National Assembly.

The number of seats each party has been allocated was calculated by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) , using a complex formula and depending on the proportion of votes a party won.

This saw the ANC, which received 65.9 percent of the 17.6 million valid votes cast, securing 264 seats. The number of MP's representing the ANC was down from 297 to 264, compared to previous years.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) received 16.6 percent of the votes which translates into 67 seats in Parliament and the recently established Congress of the People received 30 seats from their 7.4 percent of the votes.

The Inkatha Freedom Party secured 18 seats, while the United Democratic Movement, Freedom Front Plus and Independent Democrats secured four seats each.

The African Christian Democratic Party got three seats in Parliament, the United Christian Democratic Party got two, and the Azanian People's Organisation, Azanian People's Convention, Minority Front and Pan Africanist Congress of Azania got one seat each.

The IEC on Wednesday gave the list of MP's to Chief Justice Pius Langa, who, as the head of the Constitutional Court, will preside over the first sitting of Parliament.

Thereafter on May 9, all eyes will be on the Union Buildings for the Presidential Inauguration - a day of high pomp and ceremony, tight security, military displays and fly-pasts - as well as tens of thousands of guests.

Once formally inaugurated, The President will announce his deputy or deputies and his new cabinet to help him govern the country in terms of the constitution.

The new cabinet will have a chance to meet, discuss its plans and hammer out its strategy for the next five years before the new president delivers his first State of the Nation address in Parliament before a joint sitting of both the National Assembly and the NCOP on 3 June.

Thereafter, the real work for the new administration begins to implement its policies, programmes and plans to improve the lives of all South Africans, including the 77.3% of voters who took to the polls.