Review of the Joint Rules on Draft Chapters 1 and 2

Joint Rules

01 December 2023
Chairperson: Ms N Mapisa-Nqakula (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Joint Rules Committee

The Joint Rules Committee (JRC) referred the Joint Rules of Parliament (6th edition) to the Joint Subcommittee on Review of the Joint Rules (the Joint Subcommittee) on 9 July 2019 to review the Joint Rules. The purpose of the review was to update the Joint Rules, given the innovations contained in the Revised Rules of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. The review provided an opportunity to incorporate Joint Rules that were adopted by the Houses subsequent to the 6th edition (2011) as well as recent jurisprudence that affected the Joint Rules of Parliament.

The JRC received a report from the Joint Subcommittee on proposed amendments to Chapters 1 – 2B dealing with, inter alia: new definitions;  sources of authority and application; authority of the presiding officers; conduct of members; grossly disorderly conduct; rules on disorder in joint sittings; control of microphones; opening of Parliament after an election; and points of order and questions of privilege.

The JRC adopted the proposed rule amendments, with a proviso that the section on definitions in Chapter 1 would be updated once the rest of the rules (Chapters 3, 4, and 5 and the Schedules) were reviewed.

The rules are set to be adopted by the National Assembly and National Council at their respective sittings the following week.

Meeting report

The Speaker opened the meeting and called for apologies. The agenda for the day was adopted.

Minutes dated 9 July 2019

The minutes were considered and adopted. Ms D Dlakude (ANC) moved for adoption and Mr R Dyantyi (ANC) seconded. The minutes would now be signed that they have been adopted.

Matters arising

Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to the National Assembly, said there were issues related to joint committees which arose out of the discussions of the meeting on 9 July 2019. This concerned the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the Joint Standing Committee on Ethics and Members Interests. He indicated the composition and functions of joint committees were contained in the Joint Rules. These issues will be looked at when the next chapter of the Joint Rules is considered early next year.

Minutes dated 25 April 2023

The minutes were considered and adopted. Mr G Koornhof (ANC) moved for adoption and Ms M Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) seconded.

Matters arising

Mr Xaso said the issue of disruptions of Joint Sittings (SONA) was raised at that meeting but it has since been dealt with. The second issue was the referral of the Joint Rules which is currently under consideration.

Report of the Joint Subcommittee on the Review of the Joint Rules: Draft Chapter 1 and 2

Ms Dlakude presented the report on behalf of the joint subcommittee. The joint subcommittee met for the past two weeks to process chapters one and two of the Joint Rules and the subcommittee was pleased with the proposed amendments. During the discussions, Members were afforded the opportunity to consult their political parties, which they did. There were no objections to the proposed amendments. She asked that the proposed amendments be proposed, as discussed in the joint subcommittee.

Mr Xaso presented the proposed amendments to chapters one and two of the Joint Rules. Rule 1A dealt with sources of authority of the joint business of the Houses, where some aspects were borrowed from the Rules of the National Assembly (NA). The Act as a source of authority, referred to the Powers and Privileges Act.

1B dealt with the Joint Rules of Parliament while Rule 2 dealt with unforeseen eventualities (amended unforeseen matters).

2A was a new insertion to cover directives and guidelines of the Joint Rules Committee.

2B dealt with rulings of Presiding Officers, where 2B (2) and (3) were critical.

2C covered conventions and practices while 2D applied to contempt.

Rule 5 spoke to the application of Joint Rules to non-Members while 6 dealt with public participation in joint sittings. 6 (7) allowed for the Speaker or Chairperson to give non-members access to the floor of a Chamber during a joint sitting in special circumstances. 6 (12) allowed for a resolution to invite any person to address a joint sitting.

Chapter 2 was presented, where Rule 7A was a new insertion to draw a distinction between the Opening of Parliament (the first sitting of a new Parliament) and the State of the Nation Address (annual event). 

Rule 7A (3) was flagged as important as it said “no member may interrupt the President whilst delivering the State of the Nation Address”. Mr Xaso was of the view that spurious points of order might fall under such disruption.

The Authority of the Presiding Officer was covered under Rule 11A. Rule 12 pertained to discipline of members.

Chapter 2A covered virtual and hybrid arrangements.

Rule 14G dealt with the muting of microphones when members were acting disorderly.

Rule14I was a new insertion to create consistency between the physical and virtual platform and ordering Members to leave or be removed, if a Member refuses to leave. 14J (2) dealt with the suspension of proceedings for the removal of Members.

Chapter 2B dealt with freedom of speech in joint sittings.  

Rule 15B (2) dealt with the general conduct of Members, where conventions were now codified. 15B (2) (g) was a new insertion to cover objects and weapons that could not be brought into the Chamber. 

15E addressed the precedence of the Presiding Officer where the Presiding Officer should not be disrupted while speaking.

15F covered instances of grossly disorderly conduct while 15G covered instances of grave disorder. 15H dealt with the removal of Members. The rules no longer make reference to the subcommittee to deal with the physical removal of Members as it could be cumbersome for joint processes. Members would now be referred to the relevant committee in each House to deal with disruptions.

15I dealt with the referral of members’ conduct to the House and 15J with expression of regret.

Rule 15K was marked as significant as it dealt with members not making reflections upon judges and certain other holders of public office.

Rule 15L dealt with members addressing the Chair on points of order and privileges.

Rule 15P was a new insertion in the Joint Rules for reflections upon members.

See attached


Mr Dyantyi thanked the staff for the work. He confirmed that the proposed rules accurately reflect the discussions of the subcommittee he was a Member of. He noted the rules, especially on points of order, empowered the Presiding Officer, along with unforeseen eventualities. The rules were important for strengthening the decorum of the House.

Ms Dlakude agreed that maintaining the decorum of the House was important. She pleaded for the Rules to be adopted for implementation in all joint sittings. The other chapters will be attended to next year.

Mr S Mohai (ANC) agreed to adopt the Joint Rules noting it was a culmination of the processes in the subcommittee. Parliament should be a reflection of an institution dealing with serious business.

Mr H Papo (ANC) said the decorum of any legislative institution ultimately depended on the members of those assemblies. Rules deal with procedures but an environment should not be created which undermined the decorum. South Africans questioned what was happening in Parliament and said it was unsafe where Members could be hit by objects. The rules should protect the institution. Freedom of speech was not without boundaries. Parliament should demonstrate that there can be debate and disagreement without disorder.

Mr Koornhof agreed to the amended Joint Rules, as proposed.

Mr Xaso noted that there were only ANC Members present. He advised having a special meeting to adopt the Joint Rules so that its legitimacy was not questioned.

Ms M Lesoma (ANC) understood that there was a quorum but only of ANC Members. She noted Members present were considered as Members of the Committee, not political parties. She was concerned if the missing Members also did not attend the special meeting.

Mr Dyantyi indicated that the rules of quorum are not party-based; it is about numbers. The proposed rules could be sent via round-robin for all to see them.

Mr Koornhof said the Committee should focus on the rules of meetings for quorums.  The Committee is quorate and so decisions can be taken.

Mr Papo said the Committee should not accept round robins or party-based quorums – wrong precedents should not be sent. Members should not allow the meeting to collapse because there is a quorum on the platform. Absent members did not even send apologies. He cautioned against “wrong advise”.

Mr Xaso agreed with the sentiment but noted that some of the Members present were not part of the membership of the Joint Rules Committee, they were co-opted for the meeting today. He said the meeting could proceed with this noted in the meeting.

It was noted Mr N Singh (IFP) and Mr E Shaik-Emam (NFP) had since joined the meeting. The DA Members had sent apologies.

Ms Lesoma repeated that a quorum cannot be segmented into parties. She noted that when committees are constituted, all Members are Committee Members, not defined by party in that sense. She was pleased with the explanation of co-opted Members. The meeting was quorate.

Mr Singh noted he did tender an apology and asked another Member to stand in but she may be having trouble connecting. He had just walked out of a funeral to join the meeting.

The Speaker called for the adoption of the proposed amendments of the Joint Rules, Chapters 1 and 2.

Ms Dlakude moved for the adoption.

Ms W Ngwenya (ANC, Gauteng) seconded the motion.

Amendments of the Joint Rules, Chapter 1 and 2 were agreed to by the Joint Rules Committee.


ATC231204: First Report of the Joint Rules Committee on Proposed Amendments to Chapters 1 - 2B of the Joint Rules of Parliament (6th edition), 2023

Mr Xaso said the NA and NCOP will now consider the Rules next week.

The meeting was adjourned.


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