The NCOP provides a national forum capable of considering issues that affect provinces, thereby participating in the national legislative process.
In addition, the NCOP promotes the Cooperative Government and Intergovernmental Relations principles and ensures that the spheres of government work harmoniously.
The forum consists of 90 provincial delegates, and a group of 10 delegates will represent each province. Six of those will be permanent delegates, with four special delegates.
Each provincial legislature will be responsible for appointing the permanent delegates, while the special delegates consist of the Premier of the province and three members of the provincial legislature.
These positions aren’t fixed, and the delegates are rotated based on the subject matter being considered by the forum. The premier may also appoint a representative to lead in his or her stead.
Each provincial delegation has a provincial whip who is responsible for the coordination of the work of the provincial delegations in the NCOP. The chief whip of the NCOP co-ordinates the business of the House and oversees the duties of the provincial whips.
The NCOP will also elect a chairperson and permanent deputy chairperson to manage the affairs of the forum. Each delegate serves for a year. The positions are rotated annually.
Overall, each of the nine provinces will have one of its delegates elected as the second deputy chairperson.
Functions and responsibilities of delegates
The chairperson presides at meetings of the Committee and approves the budget and expenditure. Furthermore, the chairperson will preside at sittings of the House when the Speaker is absent.
Party Whips and Chief Whips
Delegates in these positions will represent their party’s interests. The chief whip from the majority party will be responsible for the legislative business and the programme of the legislature.
In addition, they will be responsible for approving the budget of the Committees, after consulting with the chairperson of the Committees.
Members of each legislature will elect the presiding officers and deputy and will preside over meetings, lead debates and ensure that delegates keep with the forum’s rules.
The presiding officers may order members to leave the House, or even suspend members in the event of a serious disorder or misconduct. They may also order members of the public to leave the House if the occasion calls for it.
Legislative work will be delegated to the Committees, who will debate issues in details and hold public hearings if the need arises. Members of the committees will also monitor internal arrangement and proceedings.
Members of the Committee will amend legislation and policy documents where required. They will also monitor the various departments under their jurisdiction.
They may make recommendations on the budgets and expenditure of these departments and investigate irregularities. They also have the power to summon ministers and officials to appear before the Committee to supply information.
It is also vital to note that the Committees do not take decisions. They merely make recommendations to the legislature in the form of reports to the House.
The various types of Committees include:
- Committees in the provincial legislature
- Ad hoc committees
- Standing Committees