Parliament to welcome new NCOP members

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Parliament - Chief Justice Pius Langa will today swear in 90 new members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during a prestigious ceremony later this morning.

Fifty-four of the NCOP's delegates to be sworn-in are permanent members of six for each of South Africa's nine provinces and the remaining 36 are sent by the provinces to attend NCOP sessions when necessary, and do not have voting rights.

The permanent delegates will be sworn in, in groups of six by Chief Justice Langa, who will also preside over the election of the chair of the NCOP.

The Chief Justice will invite delegates to nominate candidates for the position and if more than one nomination is received, an election by secret ballot will be held. Each province casts one vote.

Once the chair has been elected, nominations are invited for the position of deputy chair. The newly-elected chair officiates over this election and a secret ballot is held if there is more than one nomination, and each province casts one vote.

The same procedure is followed to elect a second deputy chair of the NCOP.

The day is one of this week's events that sees the advent of significant politics that will mark the culmination of South Africa's fourth democratic elections.

The NCOP forms part of South Africa's Parliament, which is made up of two houses - the National Assembly and the NCOP.

There are 400 Members of Parliament in the National Assembly and 90 members in the National Council of Provinces.

The NCOP represents the provinces to ensure that their interests are taken into account in the national sphere of Government.

Some well-known faces who had previously chaired committees will also no longer be returning to Parliament.

Former Deputy Cabinet Ministers Fezile Bhengu and Andre Gaum; Langa Zita, who chaired the Environmental Affairs Committee; Job Sithole from the Foreign Affairs portfolio; James Ngculu from the Health portfolio and Shepherd Mayatula from the education portfolio will not be returning.

Depending on the proportion of votes that parties received in the general election, political parties will also receive their seats in Parliament. The members are appointed by their political parties from lists compiled by the parties.

Meanwhile, yesterday MPs were sworn in during a jubilant event, while the nine provincial premiers in their different provinces.

The MPs will now travel to Pretoria for President-elect Jacob Zuma's inauguration at the Union Buildings on Saturday. Chief Justice Langa will again preside.

President-elect Zuma is expected to announce his Cabinet on Sunday at 2pm.

Parliament will convene with a joint sitting of the Assembly and NCOP on 3 June for Mr Zuma's state of the nation address.

The traditional debate on his address will be held on 4 June and he will reply to the debate on 5 June.

Both Houses will then adjourn and are expected to reconvene on 9 June to deal with the budget, legislation, and other business.

The session is expected to run until about 10 July, followed by the winter recess. Further sittings are expected later in the year.