The Constitution allows members of the public to petition the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces in Parliament on specific issues. A petition is a formal written request, usually signed by many people, asking Parliament for its assistance or intervention on certain matters or grievances. This is important for public participation because it enables citizens to voice their needs and grievances. You may also petition provincial legislatures on matters that local, provincial and national government are responsible for.

A public petition is when a group of people request intervention or assistance on specific issues and grievances. A special petition is a specific plea from an individual requesting that the state address a personal grievance.

In the National Assembly, a Member of Parliament must formally present the petition. It is recommended that you talk to a Member of Parliament beforehand, asking for his/her support. Visit the constituency office closest to your residence to seek your representative’s assistance with the content of the petition and to request that they present it to the National Assembly on your behalf. Supporting documents must be attached to the petition. The National Council of Provinces does not require that a petition needs the support of a Member of Parliament; however, the petition should be submitted according to rules determined by the NCOP Chairperson.

To find your representative, use the Rep Locator

Writing a petition

Parliament states that a petition should comply with the following requirements:

  1. Be in a form prescribed by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) or the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP);
  2. Include the name/s and contact details of the petitioner/s;
  3. Clearly indicate the intended recipient of the petition (to whom is the petition being addressed);
  4. Clearly indicate the nature of the request being made (the subject of the petition);
  5. Include a clear motivation for the petition;
  6. The petition must be in any of the official languages of South Africa;
  7. Be signed by the petitioner(s) themselves (unless the Speaker or Chairperson decides otherwise);
  8. Not contain improper or disrespectful language; and
  9. Must indicate the nature of the relief (assistance) asked from Parliament.

Enquiries on petitions may be directed to:

The Clerk of Papers

Tel: (021) 403-2224/6