Determination of Delegates (National Council Of Provinces) Bill & Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Amendment Bill :

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

30 July 1998
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Meeting report

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
31 July 1998
DETERMINATION OF DELEGATES (NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES) BILL [B56-98]; CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AMENDMENT BILL [B84-98]: BRIEFING

Documents handed out:
Determination Of Delegates (National Council Of Provinces) Bill [B56-98]
Constitution Of The Republic Of South Africa Amendment Bill [B84-98]
These bills can be accessed from http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/1998

SUMMARY
The committee was briefed by the department on both of these bills. With regard to B56-98, several committee members were not satisfied in the way the delegates were determined.The amendment bill to the Constitution deals with the time frame of the Constitution regarding elections and the demarcation of municipal boundaries. The issue facing the committee is what happens if as the Constitution states an election has to take place at least every five years and the majority party is not willing to hold elections as the municipal borders have not been demarcated yet. The political parties were asked to caucus this issue amongst themselves.

DETAILED MINUTES
Determination Of Delegates (National Council Of Provinces) Bill [B56-98]
The Bill is a continuation of where the Constitution left off regarding the issue of determination of delegates to the National Council Of Provinces (NCOP). It suggests a continuation of the values and allocations made previously on the same issue. There is therefore no significant change from the existing structures and procedures of determining delegates to the NCOP.

To have a delegate from a party in a provincial legislature go to the NCOP, the party must have at least one tenth of the seats in that legislature. The department showed extensively what this will mean in real terms. This has also been laid out and explained in the Bill itself. There are two types of delegates that can go to the NCOP, they are either permanent or special. The special delegates are equal or less in number to the permanent delegates. The permanent delegate will be posted permanently in the NCOP in Cape Town, where as the special delegate will "be flying back and forth" between Cape Town and the delegate’s province. The ratio is 6 to 4 between the permanent and the special delegates in a party.

There was a debate amongst the committee members because an example showed that a party with fewer seats and voters gained a permanent seat in the NCOP whereas a party with more seats, only got a special delegate. The committee members and the chairperson were puzzled by this because they argued that a permanent seat would carry more weight. Mr Titus from the department stated that the Bill had been well received in the NCOP.

Several committee members were not satisfied in the way the delegates were determined, regarding the finer technical points. Colin Eglin (DP) suggested that all the parties in a province must be allocated a permanent seat, after that the rest of the permanent seats must be negotiated and fought for by the parties according to their number of seats in the provincial legislature. The department’s stand, is that the special delegates will be added after the permanent delegates have been allocated, to adjust the numbers of delegates. The Chairperson, Mr Carrim, asked Mr. Titus to give a quick overview of what the department’s consultations with different provincial speakers and others had been. The Chairperson stated that there should be an index of whom have been consulted added to the bill, and that such an index will be added to this bill in the near future. All these submissions have been given to the speaker, and are to be tabled in the National Assembly.
The conclusion was that this was only a briefing session, and that both the representatives from the department and the MPs had found new and different angles and issues to look at in the bill. The chairperson stated that the parties would have at least a week to look at and debate amongst themselves on these issues, before the committee would return to the bill.

Constitution Of The Republic Of South Africa Amendment Bill [B84-98]:

The Bill, B84-98, was discussed and not B85-98 as stated in the Order Paper. Clause 1 dealing with the amendment of section 159 of the Constitution, was discussed at some length. The main issues were the time frame of the Constitution regarding elections and the demarcation of municipal boundaries. The Democratic Party stressed the need to discuss the issue regarding how many years there should or could be between elections at a local level. In the latter issue, the DP stated that at a local level representatives and the voters have a closer relationship, therefore elections should take place more often than at a national level. The MPs questioned the department’s synchronization argument for holding elections at the same time around the country. The ANC stated that the majority party would never allow elections to take place next year if it is to happen with the current municipal borders. The issue then is what happens, if as the Constitution states an election has to take place at least every five years and the country is not ready to hold elections as the municipal borders have not been demarcated yet. Not having an election next year, in 1999, would be unconstitutional. The conclusion was that the chairperson asked the political parties to come back with their views to get political clarity on these issues, especially the latter. He also wanted technical clarity from the department surrounding the issue of synchronization.

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