ELECTION NEWS - According to Section 25 of the Constitution, after a general election the first sitting of the National Assembly must take place at a time and date determined by the Chief Justice, Justice Mogoeng Thomas Reetsang Mogoeng, but not more than 14 days after the election result has been declared
On Wednesday, 22 May the first sitting of the National Assembly takes place. At this sitting, the Chief Justice, or his designated judge will preside over the swearing-in of Members of Parliament. Groups of MPs are sworn in 10 at a time, ordered alphabetically.
The Chief Justice will then also preside over the election of the president, who will be selected from among the MPs. The president starts off as a Member of Parliament but immediately ceases to be once sworn in. The president must take up office within five days of being elected.
Electing the Speaker
Thereafter the Speaker will be elected by way of nomination.
If more than one nomination is received for the position of Speaker, an election by secret ballot is held. Counting of the ballots is done in the presence of the Chief Justice. The results are then announced in the House.
Once the Speaker is duly elected, nominations are invited for the position of deputy speaker of the National Assembly. The newly-elected Speaker presides over this election.
Members of the diplomatic corps and guests of the presidency, guests of leaders and representatives of political parties in Parliament, and members of the public will also be attending the first sitting of the sixth democratic Parliament.
Importance of the mace
Throughout the process, the mace, which represents the Speaker’s authority, will remain upright in front of the National Assembly podium until the newly-elected Speaker is escorted to the presiding officer’s chair by the sergeant-at-arms. When the mace is laid horizontally, it signals the official start to the new Parliament.
Nominations for president
After an hour’s lunch break the House reconvenes and the Chief Justice calls for the nomination of candidates for the position of president of the Republic of South Africa. Like the Speaker and deputy speaker process, if more than one nomination is made, an election by secret ballot is held. Counting of the ballots is done in the presence of the Chief Justice.
The results are then announced in the House. The president, once elected, ceases to be a member of the NA.
The first sittings of the Provincial Legislatures are also provisionally scheduled for 22 May.
The Chief Justice will, in accordance with his constitutional prerogative, announce the appropriate date in due course.
Additionally, the Chief Justice has also designated the Judges President of the divisions of the High Court to preside over the first sittings of the provincial legislatures. Provincial premiers and speakers will be elected at these sittings and the swearing in of members of the provincial legislatures will also take place.
On Thursday, 23 May the first sitting of the NCOP will be presided over by the Chief Justice, who will also preside over the election of the chair of the National Council of Provinces.
Departure from tradition
In a departure from tradition, the presidential inauguration on Saturday, 25 May, will take place at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Hosting the inauguration in a stadium, the largest in the City of Tshwane, will allow for greater public participation. The theme of the inauguration ceremony is "Together celebrating 25 years of freedom: Renewal and Growth for a better South Africa".
The president is expected to appoint a deputy president and ministers to constitute his Cabinet soon thereafter. The deputy president and Cabinet members are selected from the Members of the National Assembly, although no more than two ministers can be appointed from outside the National Assembly.
The sixth democratic Parliament will start to establish its committees in the weeks following the first sittings of the NA and NCOP.
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