Subcommittee: Parliamentary Symbols

Joint Rules

13 September 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


13 September 1999

Documents handed out
Minutes of the last meeting - 08/09/99
Report on the Symbols Campaign and Symbols Campaign Proposal (attached to end of minutes)

The sub-committee adopted the criteria and campaign strategy for the new symbols as outlined in the Proposal. They decided that the current timeframe is no longer realistic as the project is six months behind schedule. The project team will draw up a new timeframe.

The only parties not represented were the Federal Alliance and the Freedom Front. The minutes of the last meeting were adopted. Matters arising from the minutes were the need to adopt a chair and the discussion of the Symbols Campaign Proposals.

Ms Somdaka, the current chairperson, is not a member of parliament and pointed out that she is therefore unable to report to other parliamentary committees. However it was decided that she should remain as chair as the sub-committee expects to be short-lived.

Symbols Campaign Proposal
Three issues needed to be discussed and decided upon:
Philosophy / criteria for the new symbols - The philosophy behind the production of new symbols is set out in the Brief at the end of the Proposal. The AEB member, Mr C Aucamp, suggested that the criteria of 'Africanism' would not unify and did not reflect all aspects of our heritage. However it was generally accepted that inclusivity and history were recognised in the criteria and that this should be part of a whole that would speak for all South Africa. The criteria were adopted.
Campaign Strategy - The process outlined in the proposal reflects affordability and that the creation of viable symbols cannot involve the general public at all stages. The parliamentary symbols that are to be redesigned are all symbolic of something and this symbolism should be maintained. Previous experience of holding design competitions in Gauteng and the Free State were met with very little useful response. The proposal is that it would be more productive to approach institutions and individuals, with the skills and knowledge of what is required, to submit designs. These approaches will be made by each province who will then submit three designs. Parliament will then choose ten designs or aspects of various different designs from which the public will select the final three. Despite the desire for more public input it was decided that this was the most realistic and affordable process possible. The process was therefore adopted. The IFP member suggested that the process undertaken by other Commonwealth nations to redesign their symbols on becoming independent should be considered. As this will only cost time and not money it was added to the proposal.
Timeframe - It was intended to launch the campaign on Heritage Day, the 24 September but it was decided that this was unrealistic. The project is running six months behind schedule and the proposals will not be tabled at the Speaker's Forum in time for even a Media launch on this day. It was proposed and accepted that the new timeframe should be drawn up by the project team as they possess internal knowledge of what needs to be done.

Appendix 1:
Division: Institutional Support
Section: Public Participation And Information
Unit: Public Participation

The process of transformation in the country brought about a growing and urgent need for Parliament to review its symbols. Parliament is to embark on a national process involving the public in the development of new Parliamentary' symbols.

The process intends to stimulate as well as obtain public participation in the development of new parliamentary symbols, which will reflect unity of the people, inclusivity, stature and the dignity of the institution as accorded by the Constitution, history and continuity of the institution, democracy and Africa.

The continuing use of Westminster system, symbols and rituals in the South African Parliament does not bode well with the spirit of the African Renaissance, which anchors transformation in South Africa. Our new Parliamentary symbols should redefine and rewrite the history of
Parliament. Symbols should further demonstrate and reflect South Africa's institutions like Parliament as part of the pride and diverse and rich traditions of Africa.

The project will be divided into two phases.
· Phase one: focuses on provincial input, whereby Legislatures engage in a process to obtain three submissions on new Parliamentary symbols from their publics.
· Phase two: constitutes the climax of the project, whereby all submissions from provinces will be published for public comments, and a decision on new symbols is taken.

The recognition will be given to participants whose submissions and/or comments are considered in the decision around new Parliamentary' symbols.

1.1 Symbols to be reviewed
1. The mace
2. The black Rod
3. The Sergeant-at-arms and the Usher of the Black Rod
4. The Parliamentary Emblem
5. Clothing of the Office Bearers and Table staff

NB. The Coat of Arms is not a Parliamentary symbol. It is a National symbol, from which elements are incorporated into the Parliamentary Emblem.

· To co-ordinate a process which must successfully deliver new Parliamentary symbols.
· Develop a joint effort within the frame-work of co-operative relations and structures with provinces for the successful competition of the project.
· To encourage public participation in the development of Parliamentary symbols
· Initiate democratic, transparent and accessible processes for public participation in the project.

Naturally, the Management Board is tasked with the overall management of the campaign. It's role is to ensure proper management of the project and resource mobilisation and management. Of primary importance is that the project be a joint effort between Parliament and Provincial Legislatures.

The Public Participation Unit will provide the necessary administrative support. It's role is to develop administrative systems to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the project. The project will be administered under the direct supervision of the Institutional Support Services Divisional Head.

The Joint Rules Committee through the Internal Arrangements Committee will approve the final project brief to provinces, the budget, procedures and strategies.

Considering the amount of both human and financial resources to be invested in the project, it will be imperative to subject the project to periodic review to ascertain conformity to the intended objectives and parameters as prescribed by Parliament's Management.

The unit will also monitor and evaluate the project. Regular reporting to the Management Board through the Divisional Head will be maintained.

The strategy proposes 5 distinct stages of activities within the two phases. It further involves input from the legislatures and the public, and ensures Members input on crucial decision-making. The process will be accompanied by media coverage throughout.

5.1. Provincial Legislatures Submissions
Provincial Legislatures invite submissions from institutions, individuals, and business. A proposed brief, to be provided to legislatures, is attached (appendix ). Crucial to this process is the commitment and support of legislatures. It is suggested that this be secured and maintained at the highest levels by Presiding Officers and Management through structures such as the Speakers' and Secretaries' fora, and NCOP structures. The campaign should be launched in the media for the purposes of creating awareness and promoting public interest, as well as ensuring transparency.

Legislatures will select and forward three submissions to Parliament. ( Since no budget has been made available for legislatures to do this, it is presumed that they would identify and invite submissions from relevant structures or organisations. The alternative would be to place adverts and invite submissions from the public or organisations, but this would incur costs).

5.2. Parliament Selects From Submissions
A selection panel at Parliament, consisting of Members and technical experts, will review the 27 submissions and recommend a short-list of possible symbols (to Members, via the Internal Arrangements and Joint Rules Committees). It is suggested that a final list (suggestion no more than 10) be made and endorsed by Members (tabled in and approved by Parliament) for public consideration.

5.3. Call For Public Input
Descriptions with graphics of possible symbols will be publicised for public comment. To facilitate decision-making, and for cost-saving purposes on printed material, the public should be given no more than 10 options to consider.

5.3.1 Promotion of public input
Promotion will serve to inform the public about the campaign, and provide information on symbols and the campaign. A multi-media strategy will be employed to reach as many people as possible, within the limitations of the small budget. It will take the following form: Advertisements
Newspaper adverts will be placed in selected regional and national media to call for public input on the (final) list of possible symbols as decided on by Parliament. Limited funding restricts the number of newspapers to be used, as well as prevents graphics being included. The advert will focus on creating awareness of this stage of the campaign. Publicity
Promotion of the campaign will be highly dependant on publicity generated by the media. Publicity will be facilitated on both print and electronic media at strategic stages during this phase to create and sustain public interest:
· A press conference by Presiding Officers to announce the finalist submissions and to invite the public to make their choices.
· Radio coverage will be particularly important in reaching rural communities, so talk shows on magazine programmes on radio and television with Members will be crucial. This will be on-going throughout this phase.
· Photo-opportunities in the media will be arranged during this stage to sustain interest and generate public participation. Parliamentary' Web-site
The Parliamentary Web-site will contain information and activities related to the campaign. Posters
Posters will be produced, distributed and displayed at strategic points throughout the country. It is suggested that distribution be done via Members and NCOP offices, that material be issued to Members before leaving for their constituencies. This will not only provide Members with the material resources to promote the campaign but will also significantly reduce direct costs of distribution. Help-desk
A help-desk will be set up to respond to public enquiries.

5.3.2 Submission of inputs
A toll-free number can be given for the public to phone in their choices over five days. Posted, faxed and e-mailed responses should also be accepted. Constituency offices should be used as submission points as well, for Members to forward to parliament.

5.4. Parliament's Review And Decision On Public Inputs
The selection panel reviews public inputs and forwards it's recommendations to Members, via the Internal Arrangements and Joint Rules Committees. It is most likely that subsequent decisions would be taken in sittings of Parliament on the new symbols.

5.5. Public Announcement of decision
This will be accompanied by media coverage in all national , regional and local press. A press conference will be arranged, with interviews on magazine programmes and talk-shows being arranged.

Successful implementation would necessitate priority attention at the highest political level of the legislatures and Parliament, as we have no control over legislative activities.

1. Parliament approves campaign proposal and processes, and budget.
(March- April 1999)

2. Provincial legislatures approached (via Speaker's and Secretaries' Fora, and NCOP) to support and commit staff to campaign.
(July- August 1999)

3. Legislatures are provided with brief, call for submissions and review and forward their recommendations/selections.
(Sept-Nov 1999)

4. Parliament selects short-list, decides on final list, launches public campaign, makes decision and announces this.
(Feb-March 2000)

1. This process should be completed before the elections.
2. This takes into account the election process, orientation and settling in of new Members in Parliament and the legislatures.
3. Heritage Day (24 September 1999) would be an appropriate opportunity to launch the campaign in the media.
This process should be completed before the legislatures go into Christmas recess.
4. An appropriate time to launch this process would be when Parliament reconvenes in February 2000, the message being "the birth of a new centenary - the birth of new symbols for our young democracy"

newspaper adverts, R40 000
posters, R80 000
distribution, R20 000
toll-free service, R6 000
contingencies, R4 000
TOTAL: R150 000

1. Includes the major national media. Circulation of newspapers is to 18 979 150 people.
2. Postage to provinces, municipal offices, libraries , NGOs and individuals.

Brief: New Symbols for Parliament
The process of transformation in the country has brought about a growing and urgent need for Parliament to review its symbols. Parliament is to embark on a national process involving the public in the development of new Parliamentary symbols.

What are symbols?
symbols are any practices, items, clothing or signs which have special meaning in our cultural, social, economic and political background or environment.

How are they being used in Parliament?
dress of office-bearers (POs); to signify the House is in session; to give blessing/credibility to the deliberations, for example.

Symbols to be reviewed
· the mace
· the black rod
the sergeant-at-arms and the usher of the black rod
· the parliamentary emblem
· clothing of the office bearers and table staff
NB. The Coat of Arms is not a Parliamentary symbol. It is a National symbol, with elements of it having been incorporated into the Parliamentary Emblem

What should new symbols reflect?
Symbols should reflect unity of the people, inclusivity, stature and the dignity of the institution as accorded by the Constitution, history and continuity of the institution, democracy and Africa.

Criteria for new symbols
The new symbols might include the following criteria:
Distinctiveness: Must be distinctive and possibly unique to Parliament
Dignity: Must be dignified and encourage pride in the institution
Unifying: The symbols must unify rather than be divisive
Simplicity: It should be easily read and understood
Attractiveness: Must be aesthetically acceptable
Heraldic significance: Should, where possible, comply with universal heraldic conventions.
Africanism: Should be clearly identified with Africa.

Presentation of submissions
Submissions may be written, on no more than 5 A4 pages. Photographs, sketches or models may be attached. These will not be returned. Contact details must be included. Where elements of submission are used in the new symbols, these will be acknowledged.

Due Date for provincial submissions to Parliament :


Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

The process of transformation in our country has brought about a growing and urgent need for Parliament to review its symbols. Parliament has embarked on a national process involving the public in the development of new Parliamentary symbols.
Now, from a final list of 27 submissions from our 9 provinces, Parliament calls on the public to make comment and indicate it's choices.

Posters have been set up at as many public places as possible, at

What are symbols?
symbols are any practices, items, clothing or signs which have special meaning in our cultural, social, economic and political background or environment.

How can they be used in Parliament?
dress of office-bearers (POs); to signify the House is in session; to give blessing /credibility to the deliberations, for example.

What should new symbols take into account?

Parliament is now looking for fresh new symbols (not necessarily to replace existing ones) which must take into account:
· transformation and nation-building in our multi-cultural society
· a break with the past and a new beginning
· unity of our people
· inclusivity
· stature and dignity of the institution
· historical continuity' of the institution
· Africa
· democracy

Parliament's new symbols should
· reflect the uniqueness of Parliament · reflect dignity and pride · be unifying · be meaningful · be easily read and understood · be attractive · be clearly identified with the renaissance of Africa

Where to view posters with symbols
These will be placed at public places such as libraries and constituent offices and post-offices and legislatures.

Send comments to: Technical Committee on Parliamentary Symbols


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