The current review of the Rules of Parliament is not only in compliance with statutory requirements but in response to pressures from the leading and minority opposition parties in Parliament. Moves made by the Democratic Alliance to pass a Motion of No Confidence on the President of the Republic last year exposed gaps in the Rules of Parliament which did not regulate for Motions of No Confidence. Like most opposition parties the world over, the Democratic Alliance supported by other opposition parties in Parliament have continuously accused the African National Congress and Parliaments’ Presiding Officers of failing to take their demands seriously. This supposed frustration led the Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament to approach the Constitutional Court for redress.
As an individual with a keen interest in parliamentary systems and procedures, I personally find the accusations, approach and measures of the opposition in this instance to be at best unnecessary, and at worst unreasonable. If the composition and structure of South Africa’s National Assembly is anything to go by, one could comfortably say that in this instance and in response to the requests for the review of Parliaments Rules, Parliament and the majority party have acted reasonably and in full compliance with the law. I noticed, with satisfaction, that the Rules Committee set up a Sub-Committee on the Review of Assembly Rules which further commissioned a task team charged with the clause-by-clause review of the entire Rule Book. Most intriguing was that in seeking to redress the matter, the Rules Committee went out of its way to seek the assistance of external parliamentary experts and former Members of Parliament from different political parties with profound knowledge on the Rules of Parliament.
Reporting on the Rules Review process has been very interesting and I recommend this to any mind with the slightest inclination for democracy and accountability. The coming months will even be more interesting as the Constitutional Court has partially ruled in favour of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament underscoring the need for the Rules of Parliament to provide for Motions of No Confidence. At present, the Rules Committee seeks to complete and adopt the reviewed rules before the end of the 4th Parliament come 2014.
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