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Parliament, Tuesday 20 April 2021 – National Assembly (NA) Speaker Ms Thandi Modise has written to United Democratic Movement President Mr Bantu Holomisa about his concerns of the composition of the Section 194 Committee, which will enquire whether or not there are grounds for the removal from office of Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
In her reply to Mr Holomisa’s letter, dated 12 April, Ms Modise said she would refer these concerns to the NA Rules Committee – to consider the implications of varying the current approach.
Section 57 of the Constitution provides that the NA may determine its own internal arrangements, with due regard to representative democracy. NA rules must also provide for participation of minority parties in a manner consistent with democracy.
In keeping with these principles, NA Rule 154 provides that “parties are entitled to be represented in committees in substantially the same proportion as they are represented in the House, except where the rules prescribe the composition of the committee, or the number of members in the committee does not allow for all parties to be represented”.
Because of the nature of party proportional representation and practical necessities, the practice has been to limit the composition of committees, while at the same time allowing that any member can attend any committee, Ms Modise said in her reply to Mr Holomisa.
However, she agreed that some committees, given their mandates, should/could be structured differently. She noted that some ad hoc committees have had different compositions to that of portfolio committees – for example, the Ad Hoc Committee on Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, which was created with a voting and non-voting membership composition.
Parliament’s 7 April announcement about the composition of the Section 194 Committee, named the committee’s 26 members, from each of the 14 political parties represented in the NA. Of the 26 members, 11 would be voting members and another 15 would be non-voting members, the announcement said.
Mr Holomisa subsequently proposed that each political party in a Section 194 Committee have a weighted vote, determined by the percentage of the electorate the party represents.
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