Subcommittee Recommendations

Rules of the National Assembly

20 March 2024
Chairperson: Ms N Mapisa-Nqakula (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


ATC240325: First Report of National Assembly Rules Committee (Rules Committee) on Rule Amendment and Guidelines for Petitions, 2024

ATC240325: Supplementary Report to First Report of National Assembly Rules Committee (Rules Committee), 2024

The NA Rules Committee considered various matters recommended by the Subcommittee.

Among the matters considered were draft Rules and Guidelines for Petitions, a model for following up on government assurances, progress with rules related to the Money Bills and Related Matters Act, draft Rules on House Resolutions and rules to cater to independent candidates.

The Committee accepted the proposal to establish a petitions office with a registrar and support staff responsible for administrative processes and research related to petitions and referrals.

The Committee endorsed a model for the Assembly to follow up on government assurances made by Ministers from the floor of the House. In this regard, the Rules Committee has agreed that a record of these undertakings should be maintained and that the Speaker should refer them to the relevant oversight committee.

The Committee noted the need to amend the rules so the Assembly can fully participate and potentially amend government budgets. Draft rules have since been prepared and sent to the respective committees for political input. The intention is to finalise these rules before the end of the Sixth Parliament.

The Committee received a report from the Subcommittee on Physical Removal of Members from the Chamber relating to an incident on 21 February 2024, where several members of the Assembly were physically removed from the Chamber in terms of the rules. The Rules Committee agreed that the principle of the ruling by the presiding officer was correct and in line with the relevant rules.

 The last matter concerned a study tour that was undertaken in 2023 to the United Kingdom in order to assess how the Parliament of Westminster oversees the office of the Prime Minister. This arose in response to a proposal for the Assembly to consider the possibility of a committee to scrutinise the Presidency. This study tour provided invaluable insights into international practices. Based on the engagements, the Rules Committee noted that, while the Assembly already has comprehensive procedures to facilitate oversight, it must remain proactive and receptive to reform. The report also suggested that, in the case of the Presidency, the Seventh Parliament considers which committee would be best placed to scrutinise the Presidency's budget.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and called for apologies.

The Chairperson outlined the agenda for the day. The agenda was adopted as is.

Committee minutes dated 12 September 2023

The minutes were considered page by page and were subsequently adopted without amendment.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) moved to adopt the minutes, and Ms D Dlakude (ANC) seconded.

Matters arising

Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to the National Assembly, said the main issues that arose from the minutes of the last meeting were canvassed in a report of the subcommittee on the review of the rules. That will be found on page four of the minutes. We shall be dealing with that report shortly. The rest of the matters have since been implemented, including those of the Ministry of Electricity, and where it was supposed to report. The rule on party funding was implemented and was passed in the House.

Report of the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules on Matters referred to it by the Rules Committee


Mr Xaso said the subcommittee dealt with four things in main: improving the processing of public petitions, a model to follow up on government undertakings that are made on the floor of the House, supplementing the Money Bills and Related Matters Act with rules, and a system to monitor house resolutions. The report also dealt with the reflections of the Committee on the matter of independents, and what can be done to take care of that area of our work.

Regarding the processing of petitions, there are three things that have since occurred. It is proposed that NA rule 347 be amended. The amendment seems technical, but it's important, it's significant. As Members will be aware, petitions are only received through Members of Parliament. This rule basically says that petitions would be through Members of Parliament, but also, members of the public could petition the National Assembly directly or lodge a petition. Currently, we do have a system for members of the public to express their views in Parliament, but through what we refer to as unsolicited submissions. So we are saying that would now become petitions.

The rules also require the National Assembly to develop guidelines on petitions. So, the subcommittee has developed those guidelines, which we'll go through shortly. The third thing that has happened is an attempt at attempted ingratiation of the petition system of Parliament, the NA, and NCOP. So, we have a petition framework that will serve before the joint rules committee shortly. The Joint Rules Committee will consider that petition framework.

Guidelines on Petitions

Mr Xaso concentrated on substantive requirements for petitions that a petition must request action where the House, government or minister has the authority to intervene. It must not be a matter that has been considered by the committee previously, except if that petition, in the opinion of the committee, contains new information that may materially impact the outcome of reconsideration of the matter. It must not concern a matter that the petitioner has not yet brought to the attention of a relevant body that would resolve the issue; it must not concern a matter pending in a court of law. It must not be in connection with a conviction or sentencing of a person by a criminal court; it must not seek to review or overturn proceedings of a judgement of a competent court, not deal with a matter that is already before the Assembly. That is, in essence, what the guidelines contain, and we think these guidelines are pretty constitutional and are not a hurdle in submitting petitions to the House.

The framework was presented before the subcommittee, and we are also presenting it to the joint rules committee. A petition will now serve for two months before a committee. Of course, other timeframes apply to the administrative process.

Government assurances and undertakings

Mr Xaso said the oversight model proposed that there ought to be a committee to pursue all assurances, undertakings, and commitments by ministers from the floor of the House. These are statements that the Executive would make, say, by a certain time, this will be done, and this is how it will be done. These matters must be followed up as proposed in the oversight module. Therefore, we are proposing that this proposal be given effect.

The committee has considered two options. One option is to establish a dedicated committee to pursue these matters.

The other option is that because these matters would ordinarily, naturally relate to government portfolios, and we have portfolio committees that deal with those matters, there may not be a need to establish a dedicated committee, but capacity must be created within the Office of the Speaker. And, of course, the Speaker would decide how that capacity ought to be created, of course, supported by the Table, to have a record of these commitments and have them referred to the relevant committees and have a tracking system that is meant to track compliance and processing of these commitments by committees. The subcommittee firmly recommends that, at this point, there's no need to establish a committee. But at this point, the Office of the Speaker, supported by facets in that office, processes this matter.


Ms Dlakude indicated that the subcommittee was generally in agreement on the proposals that Mr Xaso presented to this Committee.

Mr Q Dyantyi (ANC) said the report reflects our recommendation from the subcommittee. There was consensus, as opposed to general agreement.

Rules for Money Bills and Related Matters

Mr Xaso said if the rule were agreed to, it would enable the NA, or Parliament broadly, to amend a money bill. At this point, the House can amend money bills, but the mechanisms are still lacking; they are incomplete. And these rules do that by creating a mechanism to amend. We know that there's a budget office and four committees dedicated to this matter, but in terms of the rules and infrastructure, there are still issues there. Therefore, these rules seek to create a consultative and coordination mechanism between the committees dealing with a budget. This will be the Appropriations Committee and the Finance Committees for them to interact with other committees of Parliament. So, these rules create coordination and consultation processes. The rules also create a power or a function for the four committees to issue directives regarding their interaction with the other committees. Now, these committees, finance and appropriations, are called standing committees. They're called standing committees because they're provided for in law, so they are in this Money Act. Therefore, these rules seek to give the committees the ability to issue directives in terms of how other committees must interact with them when they process the budget through Parliament.

The subcommittee's recommendation is that these rules now warrant further consultation. Therefore, they must be sent to the committees dealing with the budget for further input, with the understanding that those committees are multi-party and all the parties are effectively represented. When I say effectively, I mean even those that are not individually represented —there are whips that represent those parties. Therefore, the recommendation is that these role-players be asked to submit their comments before the expiry of this term.

Members agreed.

House resolutions

Mr Xaso said this matter was for noting. The Rules Committee dealt with this matter immediately after the State Capture report when it served before this committee. One of the concerns expressed there was follow-up on resolutions of the House, and the Speaker, through the Rules Committee, put in place a mechanism for this follow-up and for a manual tracking mechanism. The subcommittee is basically

acknowledging the existence of the current mechanism, it is noted that rules may be necessary in future, but this mechanism must be tested before we can get to the details of having to establish rules.

Impact of Electoral Reform on the Rules

Mr Xaso outlined the possibility of having independents as part of the membership of the National Assembly. The administration has done a preliminary assessment of how we could adjust the rules to take care of that possibility. In its wisdom, the subcommittee believes we allow the situation or the current dispensation to unfold. And, at the right time, when we get to the point where we need these rules, then we can always have either a motion in the House moved to take care of urgent matters at that time and allow the Rules Committee of the Seventh Parliament time to reflect on the issue and develop appropriate rules to provide for that situation when it gets to it. So, at this point, we are not proposing rules for the NA Rules Committee. We're asking the Rules Committee to note the matter as an issue that the Seventh Parliament will grapple with as soon as they return after the elections.


Dr C Mulder (FF+) supported that as a very wise approach. He said, tongue-in-cheek that the same approach should have been taken when it came to funding political parties.

Mr Xaso noted that two members would be co-opted—Mr H Papo (ANC) and Dr G Koornhof (ANC)—to ensure a quorum.

Physical removal of Members from Chamber

Mr Xaso explained three Members were removed from the chamber during a physical sitting on 21 February 2024: Ms R Mashabela (EFF), Ms N Sonti (EFF) and Ms L Arries (EFF)

in terms of the rules, when Members are physically removed, the matter must be referred to the Subcommittee on the Removal of Members to look at the circumstances that led to the removal of the Members and also how the removal was effected.

The functions of the subcommittee are to consider the circumstances of the physical removal of a Member from the chamber, as reported to it by the Speaker, taking into account all relevant aspects, including one) the conduct of the Member concerned, the ruling by the presiding officer and the manner in which the Member was removed.

The subcommittee met on 1 March and considered all these factors. The subcommittee concluded that the presiding officer's report on the day accurately reflected what had transpired in the House on 21 February. The subcommittee found that the conduct of the Members physically removed from the chamber deserved such treatment by the presiding officer as it allowed for order to be restored and for the continuation of proceedings.

There was an issue about whether the doors of the House should have been opened when Members were being removed. The chair ruled at a time when there was no way that the order could not be maintained because the House was voting. Therefore, the rules must not be looked at in isolation, but the full text of the rules must be looked at in the context in which this matter occurred. So the subcommittee agreed with that approach, that the rules must be applied regardless. There was also a view that the matter of rule 112, which talks of the closing of the doors, could be referred to the subcommittee on the review of rules to look at whether there is a need for it to be explicit in terms of circumstances under which the doors could be opened while voting is ongoing. But the committee wanted us to emphasise that the proceedings of that day were conducted within the rules. The chairperson was correct in his ruling on the matter, and the doors had to be opened for the order in the House to be maintained and to be restored.


Dr A Lotriet (DA) said whilst it may be the finding that the presiding officer’s behaviour was correct, she thought it is important to look at the rules to make provision for such instances, especially where we have this kind of voting as we had in the City Hall, given the context. So we must be absolutely sure that it cannot be challenged in a court later on. She strongly proposed looking at the rule and what happens if the doors have closed and there is a disruption.

Dr Koornhof formally proposed that the report accurately reflects the report of the subcommittee and that it be accepted and approved.

Dr M Ndlozi (EFF) asked that the objection of the EFF be noted. It would reserve its deliberations for the correct time. The EFF objected that the presiding officer acted within the rules. Please note the objection of the EFF that this committee should adopt the report as it is.

Ms M Lesoma (ANC) pointed out to Dr Lotriet that the report did say the rules must look at the conditions, circumstances, and explicitly when the voting takes place in the immediate future. She supported the report as an accurate reflection.

Report on Study Tour to UK House of Commons

The Speaker said the study tour was meant to conduct comparative studies on what we can do best to improve our situation in Parliament.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) took Members through the report. He outlined the study tour took place when the rules committee agreed that there should be a delegation of Members to undertake a study tour to colleagues in comparative parliaments and specifically to look at the issue of how the

in this instance of the United Kingdom, the prime minister is being held accountable in the Commons. It also flowed from a discussion on the oversight mechanisms of the presidency in SA. The study tour took place from 16 to 20 July 2023. And it was a multi-party delegation ably supported by support staff from the NA table. It also included the director of the Parliamentary Budget Office and a number of other officials. The delegation engaged with political representatives and experts from Westminster, and independent institutions in order to establish, amongst other things, the following: the general procedures and conventions relating to the oversight members' mandate of the House of Commons, and the accounting responsibilities of the prime minister as the head of government, the procedures and structures employed to oversee the Prime Minister and the administration of his office, and details of the structures employed within Westminster and other institutions to scrutinise the Prime Minister and his office. That was the primary focus. And, of course, we interacted on budget matters and met with the relevant offices. We also met with the procedures committee. We received a briefing from the Select Committee in the House of Commons on how they exercise oversight, the means and offices deployed to facilitate liaison between parliament in the executive and the mandate, and the environment audit committee's role in climate change.

He said a committee in the House of Commons exercises oversight of the Prime Minister. The delegation was briefed by the chairperson of the Liaison Committee, Sir Jenkin, as well as the clerk of the committee. And what we found very interesting was how the committee's role evolved. The Prime Minister essentially appears in the Commons, when they are in session, to answer questions once a week. And it's a very short period of time that he has and doesn't go into substantive matters. The need was identified for the liaison committee, which consists of chairpersons of committees. And, of course, in the Westminster system in the House of Commons, you have a cross-party representation regarding chairpersons of these different committees. At first, it was just administrative issues, but then it evolved with the Prime Minister being invited to deal with specific issues on the agenda and in the national interest. The Prime Minister was briefed before the time on those issues, and then he attended the Liaison Committee. At the moment, they have over 30 members. The minister does financial oversight in the Cabinet Office, and we noticed how the Westminster system in the House of Commons customised its own approach to overseeing.

In terms of the recommendations, a number of observations spell out how the two systems in the UK Parliament and South African Parliament essentially differ from one another and how financial scrutiny is exercised. And we observe that with some of the procedures in place in the UK Parliament, and in the South African Parliament, we have, in many respects, more comprehensive procedures and standards concerning oversight and executive accountability.

We are thus recommending that while the South African Parliament already has these comprehensive procedures to facilitate oversight and accountability, some features of the rules and practices could be enriched. The National Assembly should remain proactive and open to reforms to support our systems and practices that are quite unique to our constitutional democracy and the existing practices in Parliament. In the case of the oversight of the presidency, the portfolio committee on planning, monitoring, and evaluation, or its equivalent in the Seventh Parliament, should be mandated to scrutinise the budget and the spending patterns of Vote One: Presidency.


Mr Frolick acknowledged the support from all the members of the delegation, as well as the support staff and our colleagues in Westminster, who made the visit worthwhile. He tabled the report for adoption.



Mr N Singh (IFP) thanked the staff that contributed to the drafting of the report. He agreed that we must be proactive in the Seventh Parliament in formulating rules to strengthen oversight. But what we learned in the UK confirmed that there must be oversight. The format of the oversight is something that we'll have to continue to look at. He agreed with the recommendations contained in the report and appreciated the opportunity to go to the UK to study their systems.

Mr Papo confirmed the report. He said a number of areas of our oversight are quite advanced than their systems, as one can read in the report. Sometimes, we underestimate and undermine how far we've gone as a country in relation to oversight. Even though the UK is a first-world country, they can also tour SA and other countries to learn something. However, the commitment to strengthen our oversight model is very important. There was a consensus amongst some of us that some of their systems were what was done in the first or second term of our own National Assembly.

The Speaker said there was agreement across the board that the trip to the UK was a success. However, in our view and experience, here in South Africa, we have quite an advanced system, and people can learn a thing or two. Of course, the South African Parliament in the seventh administration must be proactive, as there are things we can do even better. There is a clear proposal that we note the report and observations made, comparing the House of Commons and our Parliament, and we agree that in the Seventh Parliament, there are certain things that we need to do better and be more proactive.


Mr Xaso said that once the committees on finance and appropriations have been consulted on these matters, the matter will come back to this Rules Committee for it to go to the House. So, it means we may still have another meeting before the end of April to consider that matter.


He noted the Joint Rules Committee (JRC) is meeting at 10am and Members were invited to attend for a quorum.


The Speaker said Mr Papo and Dr Koornhof could be co-opted to the JCR if necessary. 


The meeting was adjourned.


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