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The Speaker

The Speaker of the National Assembly is elected to and removed from office in terms of S52 of the Constitution. In terms of this section the:

  • House must elect the Speaker from its members during the first House sitting
  • The house may remove the Speaker by resolution
  • The house must fill the position when it becomes vacant during term
  • Chief Justice must preside over the election of the Speaker
The Mandate of The Speaker

The Speaker’s mandate is twofold. It is constitutional and institutional. This mandate is furthermore dual at the National Assembly and Parliamentary level. In both situations, it involves interacting with the following sectors of the global community:

  • International
  • Continental
  • Regional
  • National
Constitutional Mandate

S90 (1)(d) of the Constitution provides that in the event of the unavailability of the President the Speaker of the National Assembly must act as the President until the National Assembly designates one of its other members. S90 generally provides for the appointment of the Acting president but Ss(d) is the only one that goes on to say “until the NA designates one of its other members”. The section can be interpreted to mean that the Speaker is the only one who must act when the post of the President is vacant. Further, the use of the phrase “its other members” means that the person occupying the position of the Speaker cannot be designated as the President. It therefore makes sense that the Constitution dictates that this person as somebody who has no interest in this position therefore objective must act as the President.

The Speaker is the leader of the National Assembly. The National Assembly has authority to legislate on behalf of the state including amending the Constitution, entering into bilateral agreements, treaties and signing international Human Rights Instruments. As a leader of the House, the Speaker has to ensure that these processes are in accordance with Constitution. The Speaker has to ensure that the members of the public participate in Legislation making. She also must ensure that the house oversees and monitors the performance of the executive arm for effective implementation of legislation already passed by the House. The Speaker provides leadership to the National Assembly the House that has constitutional standing:

  • To call upon its members to vote on any bill irrespective of where they from in the country
  • To elect The President from the National Assembly
  • From which The President appoints the Deputy President
  • From which The President appoints the Cabinet Members
  • That can remove the President from office
  • To be consulted by the President before appointing Judicial Officers
Institutional Mandate

As the leader of the House, the Speaker has the responsibility to:

  • Provide political leadership & strategic direction to the House
  • Exercise impartiality at all times in pursuance of these duties

The impartiality of the Speaker is one of the prime values the integrity of South African Parliament is measured in terms of. The Speaker therefore has the responsibility of:

  • Being the custodian of this integrity
  • Preserving parliamentary integrity
  • The decorum of the members of the House consequently.
  • Serving as the Executive Authority for the House
  • Ensuring the smooth running of the House business and its Committees.
  • Ensuring the development and management of the House programme
  • Impartially presides over house meetings & maintaining order; and chairs the strategic parliamentary committee
  • Together with NCOP Chairperson jointly presiding over joint sittings

The Speaker and the Chairperson of the NCOP jointly preside over, provide political leadership and ensure the development of the annual joint parliamentary programme framework for the following structures:

  • Joint Programme Committee
  • Joint Rules Committee
  • Parliamentary Oversight Authority
  • Executive Committee
  • Presiding Officers’ Forum,
  • Budget Committee
  • Forum of the legislative sector called Speakers’ Forum.

The Speaker’s Forum is a national structure made up of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the NA, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP; and the Speakers and Deputies from the Provincial Legislatures. The Joint Rules Committee and the Parliamentary Oversight Authority are the highest structures in the hierarchy of authority in Parliament. The Joint Rules Committee has the responsibility to develop rules for the smooth running of Parliament.

The POA on the other hand has the responsibility to develop policy environment suitable for good member performance. It has the responsibility to develop policy that is responsive to the needs of high performing members.

As the leader of the National Assembly the Speaker presides over the meetings of and provides leadership on:

  • Programme Committee
  • Rules Committee of the National Assembly
  • National Assembly Forum

The Speaker represents the Assembly in matters before the courts. She/he is cited as respondent in matters brought against the National Assembly and initiates action against persons on mandate from the Assembly.

The Speaker of the National Assembly is responsible for provision of quality support services to the House. The administrative element of this responsibility has been delegated to the Secretary to Parliament as the Accounting Officer in terms of Parliamentary Services Act, the NA Rules and the New Governance Model. The Speaker has delegated authority to oversee the function of Parliamentary Services to the House Chairperson. He must ensure that in developing and implementing of applicable policies the Parliamentary Services is always in compliance with the laws governing administration including the Parliamentary Services Act, Labour law framework, laws governing public use of finances and parliamentary policies. He is also responsible for the transformation of the Parliamentary Service.

International Engagements

Parliament is expected to participate in global issues. The Speaker represents the institution during signing of international treaties, conventions and declarations that must locate South Africa within its strategic place within the global village.

The Speaker also hosts international delegations to the South African Parliament. She/he represents Parliament in the multilateral and bilateral relations. As a necessary consequence the current Speaker is a member of the following bodies:

  • Pan African Parliament (PAP)
  • International Board for Information and Communication Technology
  • Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF)
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)

Deputy Speaker

The Constitution allows for the creation of the Deputy Speaker within the Office of The Speaker. The Deputy Speaker presides over the House plenaries. The Deputy Speaker also has the responsibility of deputizing the Speaker. This entails performing the functions of the Speaker if the Speaker for whatever reason is unable to. THe Deputy Speaker has the responsibility of ensuring the smooth running of some parliamentary projects delegated to her and attend to correspondence referred by the Speaker and advise the Speaker accordingly.

The Deputy Speaker also performs other functions as delegated by the Speaker.

In addition to the duties assigned to the Deputy Speaker in terms of any legislation or the Rules and Orders, in so far as they pertain to the Office of the Speaker, the following responsibilities are assigned

  • State Institutions Supporting Democracy;
  • Members Facilities and Training;
  • PARMED  Medical  Aid Scheme;
  • Sectoral Parliaments;
  • Parliamentary Villages;
  • Implementation of Parliament's Language Policy; and
  • Public Education and Relations;
  • Institutional Human Resources

In addition to the above, any other responsibility of function may subsequently be delegated as and when such need arises.

House Chairpersons

National Assembly Rule 14 provides for the election of three House Chairpersons for the duration of the House. The rule further provides that the Speaker allocates functions and responsibilities to each House Chairperson and announces such allocation in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports.

House Chairperson: Internal Arrangements

1. Ensuring wellbeing and interests of Members

  • Monitors policies on travel privileges for Members
  • Monitors and reports on the implementation of Members’ facilities
  • Monitors implementation of policies in respect of Members’ leave, artworks management, exhibition and library.
  • Ensures implementation of policy in regard to the needs of Members with disabilities.

2. Overseeing and ensuring alignment of structures dealing with Members’ interests and facilities

  • Oversees the implementation of internal household services to members.
  • Fosters and facilitates a working relationship between the political representatives (Members of Parliament) and the Parliamentary administration

3. Receiving and providing reports on issues of Members’ Interests

  • Alerts the Office of the Speaker to potential problems emanating or developing in Internal Arrangements
  • Presides over the Quarterly Consultative Forum dealing with matters under the broad category of Members’ Interests

4. Ensuring the enhancement of capacity of Members

  • Oversees the implementation of strategy dealing with Members’ training
  • Ensures that the approved training programmes are implemented

5. Ensuring the development and implementation of policy in respect of former Members.

  • Proposes and ensures implementation of policy on benefits and facilities for former Members
  • Ensures that Members Support office implements the approved policies

6. Deputising for the Deputy Speaker on the Board of the Parliamentary Villages Committee.

  • Ensures that there is co-ordination of transport for members to and from villages
  • Ensures that the needs of Members as residents of villages are provide for.

7. Participating in various Parliamentary Committees, e.g. National Assembly Programme Committee, Chief Whips’ Forum, National Assembly Rules, Joint Rules Committee, Joint Parliamentary Budget Forum.

House Chairperson International Relations

1. International Relations

  • Ensures and monitors implementation of Parliament’s International Relations Strategy
  • Drives the formulation, implementation and monitoring of travel policy for Parliamentary delegations
  • Attends to Parliamentary international obligations on behalf of the Speaker
  • Co-chairs and co-ordinates the Parliamentary Group on International Relations (PGIR)
  • Facilitates public participation in adoption of international instruments
  • Oversees functioning of International Relations Division.

2. Relations with United Nations agencies and other international bodies in South Africa

  • Provides a framework for cooperation and engagement with United Nations agencies and other international bodies in South Africa
  • Co-ordinates engagement of United Nations agencies and other international bodies in South Africa with Parliament
  • Provides structure for engagement with United Nation agencies and other international bodies in South Africa

3. Bilateral relations

  • Ensures establishment of parliamentary committees in relation to South Africa’s bilateral agreements
  • Coordinates and leads delegation with friendship groups
  • Advices on bilateral engagements with incoming and outgoing delegations
  • Coordinates the schedule for incoming and outgoing bilaterals

4. Multilateral relations

  • Determines priorities on multilateral bodies
  • Coordinates South African branches of multilateral bodies
  • Oversees development of material and content support for issues to be discussed at multilateral bodies
  • Identifies issues for debate by the House in relation to multilateral bodies.

5. Participating in various Parliamentary Committees, e.g. National Assembly Programme Committee, Chief Whips’ Forum, National Assembly Rules, Joint Rules Committee, Joint Parliamentary Budget Forum.

House Chairperson Committees

1. Broad responsibility to implement any policy, directive or guideline on the scheduling and co-ordination of committee meetings, as well as the general management of all National Assembly committees and subcommittees.

  • Oversees and reports to the Programme Committee on progress with Bills.
  • Oversees the tabling in the Programme Committee of committee programmes.
  • Ensures that input/concerns from the public, which are referred to committees, are attended to. 
  • Assesses committee reports with a view to their consideration by the House. 
  • Ensures the provision of agreed level of support to committees.
  • Assist with and coordinating committee budgets and business plans.
  • Monitors committee expenditure.
  • Authorizes proposed committee expenditure after political approval has been obtained from any proposed activity.
  • Coordinates and facilitates committee training.
  • Provides guidance on best practice in respect of committee reports and oversight functions and assisting in developing an effective oversight model for this purpose. 
  • Chairs the Committee of Chairpersons, which in terms of Assembly Rules, may make recommendations regarding any matter affecting the scheduling or functions of any committee.
  • Spearheads the formulation, implementation and monitoring of travel policy for Parliament, but specifically in relation to committee visits internationally and nationally, such as planning and co-ordination of oversight visits.

2. Oversight and Public Participation

  • Responsible for the implementation and coordination of Parliamentary Oversight Model
  • Facilitates the development and implementation of a public participation model for Parliament.
  • Overseeing Parliamentary Public Participation services

3. Information and Communication Technology

  • Monitors the implementation of the Information and Communication policy
  • Represents Parliament in the Global Centre for Information and Communication Technologies in Parliament
  • Collaborates with other Parliaments, international bodies in the pursuit of e-Parliament strategy on how to utilise Information and Communication Technology to help Members fulfil their responsibilities.

4. Participating in various Parliamentary Committees, e.g. National Assembly Programme Committee, Chief Whips’ Forum, National Assembly Rules, Joint Rules Committee, Joint Parliamentary Budget Forum.