The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has for the past six months been working on the ground in Free State preparing for the Taking Parliament to the People visit scheduled to take place from 15 to 19 November 2010 in the Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality at the Charles Mopeli Stadium. The theme of this year’s programme is “Working together to speed up delivery of services to our people.”
Part of the preparatory work included meetings with the leadership of the province, local government and traditional leaders, a public meeting to provide people with the opportunity to inform the content of the planned programme and site visits to follow up on issues raised during these initial meetings and fact-finding assignments.
Section 72 of the Constitution enjoins the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes. It further requires the NCOP to conduct its business in an open manner and hold its sittings and those of its committees in public.
Section 66 of the Constitution authorises the NCOP to require a Cabinet member or Deputy Minister or an official in the national or provincial executive to attend a meeting of the Council or a committee of the Council.
Driven by the ideal of ensuring the realisation of a better quality of life for all the people of South Africa, Parliament has committed itself to be effective and responsive to the needs of the people. At the centre of realising this dream, lies the need of all spheres of government to work harmoniously as a cohesive force. Because of its character and composition as a house of provinces, the NCOP is strategically placed to ensure that there is coherent planning and ultimately seamless service delivery at all levels of government.
It is within this context that in 2002 the NCOP conceived the Taking Parliament to the People Programme (the Programme). Pursuant to the implementation of the Programme, the NCOP has traversed the length and breadth to the far flung corners of the country in an endeavour to ensure the acceleration of service delivery. The NCOP has, in partnership with the provincial legislatures, conducted public hearings, site visits and held meetings with the members of the public in the most rural of areas. The Programme brings together the national, provincial and local governments.
The purpose is to give the masses of the people an opportunity to make their voices heard and to have government committing itself to delivery of quality of services in these often neglected areas. The relevance of this Programme cannot be gainsaid in the context of the current government's commitment to rural development; hence the focus is on deserving communities.