The National Parliament is the highest legislative arm of South Africa. It is the highest law-making institution of the entire country – and every law that exists in South Africa today, which applies to the whole country, is made at National Parliament.
The same parliament consists of two ‘houses’ or ‘chambers’, namely: The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The role of the NCOP is to enable provinces to have a say in all matters of national concern.
The Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), like all other provincial legislatures, has a duty to provide support to the NCOP to ensure that it runs effectively and efficiently as a second House of National Parliament.
What powers does the NCOP have?
As the second chamber of National Parliament, the NCOP plays a role in changing the Constitution of South Africa. It also takes part in the making of new laws in the country, by discussing the legislation passed by the National Assembly.
A major role of the NCOP is to pass legislation relating directly to the provinces.
In the past, South Africans didn’t have a say in the governance of the country. It is the Constitution that introduced a right for citizens to partake in the making of laws for the country. The NCOP is an important body that ensures that government is inclusive of the people in all its processes.
Who is the NCOP made up of?
The provincial delegation to the NCOP is split into two categories, namely: permanent delegates and special delegates, who are based in their province(s). Special delegates attend NCOP meetings and plenary sittings from time to time.
Once appointed, the NCOP elects a Chairperson and two Deputies among its delegates. One Deputy position is rotated among the provinces after a one-year term.
At a provincial level, a similar electoral process takes place to create a ‘provincial parliament’. Generally, the provincial parliament only has one ‘House’. Politicians elected to the ‘House’ are knows as Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs).
Constitutionally, MPLs serve a five year term, just like their national counterparts.
The GPL has established a Unit to deal with NCOP Co-ordination by monitoring daily processes in the NCOP through the Liaison office in Cape Town. This Unit ensures that the Legislature is abreast on all scheduling of provincial briefings on bills, Committee Meetings, negotiating and final mandates and NCOP plenaries. This seeks to ensure that the Legislature is well informed and is able in the NCOP processes.