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Chief Justice Raymond Zondo Announces First Sitting of National Assembly Post-Election

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Raymond Zondo

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo Announces First Sitting of National Assembly Post-Election


In a statement issued by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the first sitting of the National Assembly will officially be held at 10 AM on Friday. This comes in light of the recent national elections on 29 May, one of the most hotly contested in South African history since the birth of democracy.

President @CyrilRamaphosa responding to questions by Members of the National Assembly in Cape Town
President @CyrilRamaphosa responding to questions by Members of the National Assembly in Cape Town

Constitutional and Procedural Mandates

As mandated by Section 51(1) of the Constitution, the Chief Justice holds the authority to call the first sitting of the National Assembly following national elections. According to the statement from Zondo’s office, “During the first sitting of Parliament, the Chief Justice will administer the prescribed oath or affirmation, as the case may be, to members of the National Assembly.”

The members of the National Assembly will partake in an oath or affirmation to uphold the Republic and obey the Constitution, a prerequisite outlined in Section 48 of the Constitution before they can officially assume their duties.

Election Procedures within the Assembly

The first sitting of Parliament will also see the election of the Speaker for the National Assembly. “Once the Speaker has been elected, he or she will preside over the election of the Deputy Speaker. Following this, the Chief Justice will take the reins again to oversee the election of the President,” elaborated the statement.

The National Assembly’s initial sitting will occur at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, marking the start of a new legislative term.

National Council of Provinces to Follow

A similar process will unfold for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), with its first sitting expected on Saturday. Chief Justice Zondo will administer the oath or affirmation to the NCOP members before them electing their Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.

Moreover, Judges-President have been directed to determine the first sittings of Provincial Legislatures. These meetings must occur within 14 days of the election results’ declaration. They will administer the required oaths and oversee the elections of Provincial Legislatures’ Speakers and Premiers.

Not all is smooth sailing, however. Moloto Mothapo, Parliament Spokesperson, announced that the MK Party intends to contest the election results declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). They have notified Parliament of their intention to boycott the first sitting of the National Assembly.

“The MK Party’s 58 elected Members, expected to occupy Parliament seats, will not attend the inaugural session. They argue that the scheduling contradicts the Constitution,” said Mothapo. Despite these claims, Parliament maintains it is legally bound to conduct the first sitting as directed by the Chief Justice.

To mitigate potential legal challenges, Parliament has cited Section 49(3) of the Constitution, emphasizing that unless the election results are nullified by a court, the sittings must proceed. All logistical arrangements, including accommodation and travel for members, have been arranged accordingly.

MK Party’s Stance

In a counter-statement, MK Party Spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela, voiced that the party would lodge a formal complaint with the Constitutional Court to interdict the swearing-in session until their grievances around alleged election fraud are addressed. Ndhlela stated, “We argue that unresolved objections and the substance of these allegations render the declaration and the first sitting unconstitutional.”

The party maintains that Parliament’s decision to progress disregards serious concerns regarding election fraud which undermine the trust of the electorate.

Commitment to Democratic Processes

Despite the controversy, Parliament remains committed to fulfilling its constitutional duties. Mothapo concluded: “We reaffirm our commitment to carry out our responsibilities under the Constitution in scheduling the first sittings of the National Assembly and the NCOP. We ensure that all democratic processes and procedures are upheld in accordance with the law.”

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