National Assembly sitting proceeds despite warnings over legality

The first sitting of the National Assembly on Friday has allegedly proceeded despite concerns of legality and irregularities.

The first sitting of the National Assembly on Friday has allegedly proceeded despite concerns of legality and irregularities.

Published Jun 16, 2024


The inaugural sitting of the National Assembly allegedly took place despite concerns over the legality of the proceedings conducted by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Judge Zondo presided over the proceedings before ANC’s Thoko Didiza was elected Speaker of Parliament on Friday.

However, before the activities, the non-profit organisation Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation (HBR) requested that the proceedings be suspended temporarily.

Nelson Mandela’s great-grandson, Mayibuye Mandela, raised alleged irregularities concerning the proceedings.

Judge Zondo’s spokesperson, Lusanda Ntuli, was asked to comment.

The HBR, which requested that the Electoral Court declare the 2024 national and provincial elections null and void, said the proceedings in Parliament should be temporarily suspended with immediate effect.

The organisation said the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) failed to discharge its statutory obligations.

The organisation said its request for the suspension of the proceedings was based on the fact that there was a pending court matter between the IEC and itself.

It said this was scheduled to be heard by the Electoral Court.

It threatened that failure to comply with the request could result in legal consequences, including criminal charges and a declaration of delinquency.

The organisation’s chairperson, Mothopeng Msieleng, said this made the IEC lists of political parties to the National Assembly and legislatures sub judice.

“In light of these circumstances, we kindly request that parliamentary proceedings be put on hold until the court matter is resolved. This will ensure that the ongoing legal proceedings do not prejudice any decisions made by Parliament,” said the HBR Foundation.

Msieleng said he believed that the proceedings would violate the Constitution and the Judiciary Services Act.

“We request that you adhere to the rule of law and await the Electoral Court's decision before proceeding,” he said

However, Judge Zondo went ahead with the sitting and presided over the swearing-in of Parliament members and the Speaker’s election.

This was after the final Government of National Unity (GNU) agreement was signed before the proceedings at the Cape Town Convention Centre, which was the venue of the first sitting of the seventh administration.

The agreement was signed by ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula and chairperson of the DA’s federation council, Helen Zille, indicating their intention to form the government together.

The agreement saw the DA voting in favour of Cyril Ramaphosa as President and Thoko Didiza as Speaker of the National Assembly. In return, the ANC supported the appointment of the DA’s Annelie Lotriet as deputy speaker.

This was despite the absence of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) which refused to send its 58 MPs to the National Assembly to be sworn in.

The MKP alleged that it was robbed of victory through vote-rigging and boycotted the sitting.

Mandela said the recent elections and subsequent legislative actions should be rendered invalid because the sitting comprised of fewer than 350 members.

He said Section 46 of the Constitution stated that the National Assembly must have between 350 and 400 members.

Mandela added that the members should be elected through an electoral system that was prescribed by national legislation and based on the national common voters roll. Mandela said this required a minimum voting age of 18 years, which generally resulted in proportional representation.

Mandela said an act of Parliament must specify the formula for determining the exact number of members within the 350-400 range.

He said if the constitutional mandate was not adhered to, the following issues would arise:

- Legitimacy of the Assembly: The National Assembly might be considered improperly constituted, which could invalidate its legislative decisions.

- Legal challenges: Any laws passed by a non-compliant assembly could be subject to legal challenges and potential nullification by the judiciary.

- Political instability: Failure to adhere to constitutional provisions may result in political turmoil, undermining public confidence in the democratic process and governance structures.

- Judicial intervention: The Constitutional Court has the authority to enforce compliance with the Constitution and may order corrective measures.

Mandela said: “In light of these constitutional requirements, the current composition of the National Assembly, being less than 350 members, is a direct violation of Section 46. Consequently, the validity of the elections and any legislative decisions made under these conditions are in serious question.

“We urge all relevant authorities to address this matter promptly to ensure the integrity and legality of our parliamentary processes.“

Sunday Independent