Portfolio Committees in National Assembly to increase to 30
Inside the National Assembly.
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The number of Portfolio Committees in the National Assembly will increase from 27 to 30.

This was the proposal in the National Assembly Rules Committee meeting last night.

One of the pressing issues was the reconfiguration of these committees, given the expansion of the new National Executive.

A subcommittee to look into the seating arrangements of political parties in the House will also be considered as some of the parties are now part of government.

Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso says, “There are 32 ministries that have been established and therefore we are proposing that 30 portfolio committees be established that are in line with the ministries that have been created. And what we are saying also towards the end in the Sixth Parliament, we had 27 portfolio committees. The increase is occasioned by the separation of Agriculture from Rural Development and Land Reform, Science and Technology from Higher Education as well as the creation of Electricity and Energy. Correctional Service (was also) separated from Justice and that Electricity (Ministry) did not have a portfolio committee before and now it does. We also state that this excludes joint committees.”

Another committee that may be established is one that would hold The Presidency to account, as Xaso adds: “In the last Parliament, there was a matter about a committee to deal with vote 1 and the proposed recommendation from last parliament was that that committee could be the committee on monitoring and evaluation which will deal with the issues of vote 1 and that is a recommendation we would want to make in this instance if there is still a view that such a committee should still be established.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Chief Whip, Veronica Mente, vigorously raised the issue of new seating arrangements and which party should fill the title of official opposition.

“Yesterday in the chief whip’s forum, we agreed that we will come here and sort of establish a principle in terms of the seating arrangement and determine the opposition. I know that the modalities will be dealt with in the sub-committee of rules. But in terms of the seating arrangement and because government has now been constituted, we all know that and we live to that reality and people that are in government must be in government and the people that are opposition must be in the opposition. With that said, it means that MK (uMkhontho weSizwe Party) is opposition and then the MK must give us a leader of the opposition and the whip of the opposition with the deputy whip of the opposition. So, that principle must be established, even if it goes to sub rules, they will be dealing with the nitty gritties of term and all of those things but reality is GNU is in action.”

National Assembly Speaker and Rules Committee Chairperson, Thoko Didiza, agreed on the urgency of a subcommittee meeting.

“I don’t think there is a debate around the principle that it has to be established but the request is that can the subcommittee bring us a comprehensive report and as soon as possible, that committee must meet.”

The National Assembly Rules Committee also noted that Joint Committees will have to be established by the Joint Rules Committee of Parliament which consists of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) rules committees.

VIDEO | National Assembly Rules Committee proposes an increase in the number of committees: 

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