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Parliament is made up of two Houses, the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) , whose members are elected by the people of South Africa.

Each House has its own distinct functions and powers. The National Assembly is responsible for choosing the President, passing laws, ensuring that the members of the executive perform their work properly and providing a forum where the representatives of the people can publicly debate issues. The Speaker is the head and spokesperson of the National Assembly.

The National Council of Provinces is also involved in the law‑making process and provides a forum for debate on issues affecting the provinces. Its main focus is to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government. The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces is the head of and spokesperson for that House.

One of Parliament’s most important roles is to approve the government’s budget for providing services to the people of South Africa. The budget is introduced in the National Assembly by the Minister of Finance, whereafter the Houses proceed to discuss the money to be allocated for each separate government department. At the end of this process, Parliament approves the budget. Its duty is to ensure that public funds are spent on improving the quality of life of all South Africans.


The room in which a House meets to debate is called a “Chamber”.
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The 1994 elections ushered in a new democratic order in South Africa. The extraordinary participation by South Africans showed that we desired to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

The process of negotiations, which preceded the 1994 elections, resulted in the drafting of a new Constitution, as adopted on 8 May 1996 by the Constitutional Assembly. The Constitution was adopted as the supreme law of the Republic and lays the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law. It stipulates the values and mechanisms for governance of our unique people-centred democracy.

The Constitution sets a single, sovereign democratic state where governance is effected through Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. In the Republic the legislative authority is vested in Parliament, the executive authority is vested in the President, and the judicial authority is vested in the Courts.

Parliament’s role and ultimate outcome is to represent the people and ensure government by the people under the Constitution, as well as represent the provinces in the national sphere of government.

This mandate of Parliament is achieved through passing legislation, overseeing government action, and the facilitating of public involvement, co-operative government and international participation.

The role of Parliament includes the promotion of the values of human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution, universal adult suffrage and a multi-party system of democratic government. It upholds our citizens’ political rights, the basic values and principles governing public administration, and oversees the implementation of constitutional imperatives.

It provides legislation that prevents or prohibits unfair discrimination, and holds members of the executive accountable, collectively and individually. Parliament also provides multi-party parliamentary committees to have oversight of all security services in a manner determined by the national legislation or the rules and orders of Parliament.

Parliament further facilitates public involvement in the legislative and other processes and in its committees, has the responsibility to promote the principles of co-operative government and intergovernmental relations, and ratifies international agreements which are binding on the Republic.

Parliament as an organ of state, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect the courts and state nstitutions, to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of these.

This mandate of Parliament determines its reason for existence. It is the origin of the institution, and is based on the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, establishing Parliament and setting out the functions it performs. Parliament therefore fulfils this mandate by performing the following functions:

Function 1: Passes legislation or laws
Function 2: Scrutinise and oversee executive action (keep oversight of the executive and organs of state)
Function 3: Facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislative and other processes
Function 4: To participate in, promote and oversee co-operative government
Function 5: To engage and participate in international participation (participate in regional, continental and international bodies)


The mandate of Parliament provides direction to set the mission, indicating the purpose of Parliament and describing its main business.

The mission is:

As the freely elected representatives of the people of South Africa, our mission is to represent, and act as a voice of the people, in fulfilling our constitutional functions of passing laws and overseeing executive action.

Our mission indicates our core business, the functions of Parliament, as described in the Core Objectives.