The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson
In terms of the Constitution, the NCOP must elect a Chairperson and two Deputy Chairpersons from among the delegates. The Chairperson and one of the Deputy Chairpersons are elected from among the permanent delegates for five years unless their terms as delegates expire earlier. The other Deputy Chairperson is elected for a term of one year, and must be succeeded by a delegate from another province, so that every province is represented in turn. The Chief Justice must preside over the election of the Chairperson, or designate another judge to do so. The Chairperson presides over the election of the Deputy Chairpersons.
The Functions of the Chairperson
The Chairperson of the Council must exercise the powers and perform the functions of the Office of the Chairperson after consulting the Deputy Chairpersons, other Presiding Officers, the delegation heads, the whips and any relevant committee wherever the Rules of the NCOP or the proper functioning of the NCOP requires such consultation.
The Chairperson of the NCOP may authorise a Deputy Chairperson, or a committee or member to exercise a power or perform a function vested in terms of the Rules of the NCOP in the Chairperson.
The Chairperson’s mandate is twofold. It is constitutional and institutional. It is at the NCOP and parliamentary levels. In both situations it involves interacting with the following sectors of the global community:
The Functions of the Deputy Chairperson
The Deputy Chairperson assists the Chairperson in providing strategic leadership to the NCOP, including chairing joint committees of Parliament. Therefore, the Deputy Chairperson performs any of the functions of the Chairperson if the Chairperson, for whatever reason, is unable to. This includes representing Parliament in international multilateral forums and the NCOP in international bilateral forums. From time to time the Deputy Chairperson, in her official capacity, is expected to undertake certain projects on behalf of the Presidium or the institution.
The House Chairpersons
The Rules of the NCOP make provision for two House Chairpersons to assist the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson in performing their work. Their functions include:
- Co-ordinating the work of Select Committees;
- Preparing reports regarding legislation and committee activities;
- Monitoring support provided by Committee Section to Select Committees;
- Facilitating the drafting of Select Committee budgets;
- Co-ordinating strategic and business plans and programmes of Select Committees;
- Co-ordinating oversight activities of Select Committees;
- Ensuring compilation of committee reports on oversight activities;
- Monitoring compliance by the Executive with respect to recommendations set out in reports of Select Committees;
- Facilitating the implementation of the recommendations of the oversightsubcommittee; and
- Monitoring support for Members and to advise the Chairperson of the NCOP on the support needs of Members.
The permanent Office Bearers (Presiding Officers) in the Office of the Chairperson have the responsibility:Of providing political leadership and strategic direction to the House. Of exercising impartiality at all times in pursuance of these duties.
The impartiality of the Presiding Officers is one of the prime values the integrity of the South African Parliament is measured in terms of. They have the responsibility of:
- Preserving parliamentary integrity;
- Maintaining the decorum of the House;
- (The Chairperson) 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 presiding over House meetings and maintaining order; and chairing strategic parliamentary committees; and
- (The Chairperson) Together with the Speaker of the National Assembly, jointly presiding over Joint Sittings of Parliament.
The Chairperson and the Speaker jointly preside over, provide political leadership to, 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 the national structure, the membership of which is constituted 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 of Parliament.