It is important for citizens to make themselves heard on matters affecting them, by making submissions to the two Houses of Parliament. The Constitution allows the public to participate in government's decisions in terms of law making, oversight and parliamentary processes.
When Parliament processes legislation, they will place a call for public comment, which allows citizens to present their views, grievances and suggestions to the relevant parliamentary committee. The submissions are considered by Members of Parliament and the submitter may be called upon to make an oral submission to the Committee during a public hearing.
Here is a guideline for writing a submission: If you're making a submission on behalf of a company or organisation, use a letterhead. If you do not have a letterhead or you are an individual, state clearly at the top (preferably in the right hand corner) who you are and include your address and contact details. Head the submission with the name of the committee it is addressed to, what the submission seeks to address – the subject line (this must be very clear), and include the date the submission is being made. Give details about your organisation or yourself, stating why the bill is important to you, and how it will affect you or the public. This should be followed by a paragraph underlining the problems you have with the bill and your proposed solutions or recommendations. Remember to be constructive in your criticism of the bill. Indicate whether you would like the opportunity to make an oral presentation to the committee regarding your submission.
See this example of a submission from the Legal Resources Centre on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill (Click on the Legal Resources Centre’s submission) 2.2 Visiting Parliament The Constitution allows for citizens to attend parliamentary committee meetings and sittings of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. The public is also allowed to contact Members of Parliament (the elected representatives of the people) to express their views on pertinent matters. Members of Parliament are accountable to you because you voted for them.
You can find the daily schedule of Committee meetings here: www.pmg.org.za/schedule
If you would like to attend a parliamentary meeting, please contact Parliament’s Public Relations Office on 021 403 2460/1 or 021 403 2197/8.
2.3 Taking Parliament to the People In 2002, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) created a programme called “Taking Parliament to the People” to encourage public participation in government decisions and law-making processes.
For one full week every year Members of the NCOP, in partnership with provincial legislatures, invites members of the public to hold public hearings where they can air their grievances around service delivery. The aim is to discuss relevant, pressing issues and to form a plan of action where the problems are addressed. The types of issues that are discussed include matters of housing shortages, water shortages, education, health and social assistance (amongst others).
NCOP representatives are engaging with the public and listening to what they have to say. The programme is usually held in deep rural areas where service delivery issues are most rife, and where people lack the resources to access Parliament.
2.4 Sectoral Parliaments Sectoral Parliaments are special dedicated parliaments for groups that are generally marginalised. Examples of sectoral parliaments include women’s parliament, youth Parliament, worker’s parliament and children’s parliament. The sittings are hosted annually for each parliament, during which Members of Parliament engage with these marginalised groups on matters affecting them.
The overall aim is to encourage public participation by providing the public with the opportunity for them to voice their concerns and grievances.
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