The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today began a two-day planning session with the provincial legislatures as well as the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and other relevant stakeholders to draft a road map on intergovernmental relations for the duration of the sixth parliament.

Permanent and special delegates to the NCOP, Members of the Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) and Salga representatives are meeting in Parliament’s Old Assembly Chamber to deliberate on coordination, collaboration and cooperation between their various institutions, with an aim to come up with a coordinated plan which will impact on how they carry out their constitutional mandate and better the lives of the people.

Delivering the keynote address where he outlined the objectives of the workshop, the Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Amos Masondo, said the planning session was aimed at setting the strategic agenda and firm up a legislature roadmap for the duration of the sixth NCOP. 

He said it was also to deliberate and come up with key issues that will inform the NCOP and provincial legislatures’ strategic plan for the sixth Parliament for the period 2019 – 2024.

“Though this planning session,” he added, “we also seek to identify challenges emanating from previous workings of the NCOP and legislatures and come up with programmes to address them in this term. Another objective is to identify priority programmes, systems and processes that will improve on how we fulfil our constitutional mandate to the benefit of our people on the ground, and come up with a coordinated process for developing and completing the final strategy in a manner that allows for extensive consultation, coordination and cooperation.”

He also advised the session delegates that in developing the strategy, they should take into account lessons coming from the recent Auditor-General and other studies that show massive capacity challenges faced by the local sphere of government, which is at the heart of service delivery in our country.

The Chairperson also emphasised the importance of public consultation, which is one of the key constitutional requirements in the legislation-making process.

“We must collectively facilitate effective public involvement to ensure that the laws that we make are informed by the views of the public. In doing so, we must be acutely aware that our democracy is also representative in nature. We must be bold enough to inform the public that comments that are consistent with the Constitution and objectives of the Bill in question will reinforce progressive efforts to advance our freedom and democracy,” he added.

He also called on the legislative sector to take advantage of the opportunities that came with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to expand public participation and involve as many people as possible in the business of the sector.

“Our processes must take into account the current opportunities that the Fourth Industrial Revolution put at our disposal. We must maximise the use of technology to achieve as much as we possibly can, to reach as many people as possible, to disseminate as much information as possible in our facilitation of public involvement efforts to take the legislative sector to the people.

“Given the technological advances, it cannot be that people are unable to participate in our processes because they do not have the means to reach the seat of our legislatures. While technology may minimise travelling time and costs, it must maximise our reach and impact in performing our constitutional functions,” he said.

The Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Ms Sylvia Lucas, also stressed out the importance of public participation and made reference to the infamous Lamosa judgment, where the Constitutional Court found that the NCOP failed to conduct adequate public participation on the Land Restitution Amendment Bill, and the legislation was set aside.

After Parliament passed the Restitution of Land Rights in 2014 to reopen the lodgement of land claims for a period of five years, the Land Access Movement of South Africa (Lamosa) took the matter to the Constitutional Court, which declared that the Act was invalid, because “Parliament failed to satisfy its obligation to facilitate public involvement in accordance with section 72 (1)(a) of the Constitution”.

By Sakhile Mokoena
20 August 2019