Parliament ready for the first sittings of National Assembly

Secretary to Parliament Xolile George said Parliament stood ready to usher in the seventh administration.

Secretary to Parliament Xolile George said Parliament stood ready to usher in the seventh administration.

Published Jun 14, 2024


It is all systems go for the seventh Parliament as the first sittings of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), following the May elections, convene in Cape Town today and tomorrow.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Secretary to Parliament Xolile George said Parliament stood ready to usher in the seventh administration.

“We are quite ready and our teams are in action to ensure smooth operations run as expected,” George said.

“We are confident that the proceedings will unfold smoothly and effectively, marking the successful commencement of the seventh democratic Parliament,” George said.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) has been designated for the inaugural sittings of the National Assembly and the NCOP to ensure they were held within the stipulated 14-day deadline after the elections.

“The CTICC has been selected primarily for its capacity to comfortably accommodate the approximately 400 members of Parliament along with their guests.”

The venue was chosen as suitable because the parliamentary buildings that would ordinarily host the events were gutted by fire two years ago.

George said new MPs were being on-boarded and 108 were registered as of yesterday morning and that MPs were oriented on the parliamentary rules and constitutional processes for the first sittings.

“This is essentially designed to ensure that all members are well-prepared and informed about the procedures and responsibilities they will encounter in that sitting,” he said.

Today’s sitting will start at 10am with the swearing in of all MPs being presided over by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

This will be followed by the election of the National Assembly Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the president.

The 54-members of the NCOP will be sworn-in tomorrow.

George explained the processes to be followed after the election of the office-bearers, including the inauguration of the president-elect within five days of his or her election and the hosting of the Opening of Parliament Address on a date to be determined.

He also said Parliament was ensuring that all MPs were well prepared for their roles, and induction was planned for the first week in July.

He revealed that R58 million has been budgeted for the establishment of the seventh Parliament, up from the R43m spent five years ago.

The amount will be spent on flights, accommodation in Cape Town, the tools of trade, induction and related matters.

George said the increase in the costs was partly due to the first sittings being held at the CTICC as buildings that are usually used for that purpose were destroyed in the fire.

“We had to create a precinct called CTICC, the cost of the venue and the number of days to secure the building right until after three days will contribute to the cost of R58m,” he said.

George said all newly elected members who presented themselves would be sworn-in.

“For members who do not arrive for the swearing-in, the door is not closed as a date will be determined.

“It may be done by the Chief Justice or by a designated justice when those members present themselves,” he said.

George also said Parliament would activate bookings for MPs of the MK Party (MKP) should the party want its members to attend after the national legislature cancelled their bookings and flights when they threatened to boycott the first sittings.

“It is not a choice of Parliament to prevent members to come nor it is a plan of Parliament not to enable members not to come.”

However, he said the bookings would be done taking into account all logistical implications.

“We are keen to receive all members to make sure proceedings run smoothly. We encourage all parties to be present in line with the lists that must be sworn in to properly constitute all proceedings,” he added.

George indicated that five parties had made changes to the lists of newly-elected MPs.

“We received communication from various parties to supplement and fill vacancies of a total of about 20 members,” he said, adding the affected organisations were the MKP, the EFF, ActionSA, the DA and the UDM.

Cape Times