Legislature seat numbers: Committee Report

Adhoc Committee: WCPP Seats (WCPP)

09 November 2022
Chairperson: Mr A Van Der Westhuizen (DA)
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Meeting Summary


In its last meeting, the ad hoc committee looking into the number of seats in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, met to consider the report on its work. The Committee found that the number of seats was no longer adequate and sufficient to represent the population of the province and accountability was compromised. As changing the number of seats meant a change to the Constitution of the Western Cape, the matter was referred to the Standing Committee on the Premier and Constitutional Matters.

While Members were unanimous in adopting the report, there was discussion around the meaning of “periodic review” of the number of seats in the report and whether the Committee was being too prescriptive in its recommendations to the Standing Committee on the Premier and Constitutional Matters.

There was unanimous thanks for the work of the staff, advisors and stakeholders in the process. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and confirmed quorum was met. He asked Members and staff present to introduce themselves. He expressed thanks to the Committee staff for compiling the report. The report had been circulated amongst Members and some editorial changes have been made. He thought the report was a true reflection of the Committee’s work.

Draft Report of the Ad Hoc Committee WCPP Seats
The Committee report was shown on the screen. The Chairperson allowed Members to make their amendments, page by page.

Members noted minor amendments.

Mr P Marais (FF+) was concerned that the report referred to “period review” and the vagueness of the term “periodic”. He felt it should be more defined. He asked if an increase in the number of seats in the legislature would also mean an increase in the number of provincial ministers or if this purely the prerogative of the Premier.

The Chairperson urged Members to stick to their mandate – the mandate of the ad hoc committee was to consider whether the current number of members in the provincial legislature was not appropriate, not the size of the Cabinet. The Committee has been careful not to prescribe but to make a recommendation that the current number of seats is no longer appropriate, which would require a change to the Western Cape Constitution. The recommendation is that the Committee dealing with constitutional changes deals with the changes. The Committee was reluctant to exceed this mandate.

Mr Marais, while acknowledging this, said politicians looked to the future and he was concerned that “periodic review” could lead to political manipulation of the number of legislature seats. The Committee should be explicit on what “periodic review” means, especially if this would form part of the constitutional amendment. Constitutional amendments are not there to serve political objectives.

The Chairperson agreed and did not doubt the constitutional matters committee would consider constitutional changes seriously given the motivation Mr Marais made.

In looking at the recommendations, Mr R Mackenzie (DA) broached that perhaps the report was too prescriptive in the areas the constitutional matters committee may consider.

The Chairperson thought the report was not prescriptive given the use of terms such as “areas of possible consideration”. He said the Committee was “staying in its lane”. The primary issue the Committee remarked on was whether the number of seats in the legislature was still appropriate.

Ms Marais agreed, noting that constitutional changes required a two-thirds majority vote in the House. Power will not be able to be abused as the ruling party did not have a two-thirds majority.

Mr Mackenzie suggested the ordering of the report be amended so that recommendations were right at the end.

The Chairperson responded that recommendations must precede the areas for the constitutional matters committee to consider – it would not be logical if it was the other way around.

Mr P Marran (ANC) questioned if further constitutional change was needed if the legislature decided to go beyond the 1:1000 ratio.

The Chairperson said the report would go to the House before being referred to the Standing Committee on the Premier and Constitutional Matters.

Mr Marais said a lot of work went into the report and thought it would be a “nice touch” to express appreciation and thanks to the officials that worked on the report.

The Chairperson suggested this be added to the minutes of today’s meeting. The report should be kept formal and factual.

The report was adopted unanimously.

Committee actions/recommendations
It was recommended that the Committee express thanks to those who assisted the Committee in its work and the report compilation.

Mr Mararis thanked the Chairperson for his leadership in this process.

Committee minutes dated 7 September 2022
The minutes were considered and adopted.

Committee minutes dated 9 November 2022
The minutes were considered and adopted.

Mr Marais felt the specific names of stakeholders that assisted the Committee in its process be mentioned instead of a “blanket” thanks. He felt this would give greater credibility.

The Committee staff said the specific units would be mentioned.

The Chairperson again thanked the support staff and Members. He said the cooperation and level of debate were “wonderful” amongst the parties in serving the interests of the province.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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