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The Contact Trust Parliamentary Directory is a public resource aimed at empowering ordinary South Africans with knowledge about those representing them in Parliament. This Directory provides constituents and civil society organisations with a user-friendly tool for pro-active engagement with Parliament to encourage a bottom up approach to political advocacy.

The Directory not only includes contact information of each Member of Parliament (MP) but also background information reflecting their parliamentary and political history, education, parliamentary committee membership, policy and personal interests, and organisational membership.

Contact Trust collated this information based on surveys and interviews with individual MPs. The participation of the majority of MPs in putting this publication together is a reassurance of their commitment to building a strong civil society.

We hope that this resource will strengthen the relationship between MPs and civil society as they work towards building a stronger South Africa. It is with this spirit in mind that we present the Contact Trust Parliamentary Directory.

Parliament is the most accessible branch of Government, where organisations and individuals involved in advocacy can influence the law. The Constitution establishes the powers vested in Parliament. Its main responsibilities are to pass legislation, to oversee the national executive and to provide a voice for the public in Government. Each delegation is generally proportionally representative of the political parties that were elected to the legislature in that province.

A full sitting of the houses of the National Assembly finalises the business that its committees have investigated, discussed and recommended. Members of the National Assembly are appointed in proportion to the number of votes their party wins in a national election. The people responsible for the management of both houses of Parliament and for chairing its meetings are called the Presiding Officers. The National Assembly elects a Speaker to administer its affairs. In the NCOP a Chairperson is elected to direct its business. They are supported by Deputies, Chairpersons of Committees and the House Chairpersons.

In the NCOP there are nine Select Committees, each dealing with a number of government departments. A full sitting of the houses finalises the business that its committees have investigated, discussed and recommended. Political parties each have a Chief Whip to manage their affairs. Another way to reach MPs is through their constituency offices. Each MP has a constituency office with an administrator to assist the public.

The constituency office is a base for contact between the MP and the surrounding community. During the year time is set aside for constituency periods when MPs are available to report back to the public and to be informed of problems. The Constitution makes provision for a maximum of two Ministers to be appointed outside of the National Assembly. The Leader of Government Business looks after Cabinet’s interests in Parliament.

The Leader, the Presiding Officers of both houses and the Chief Whips together decide on Parliament’s programme. They have no voting status; and participate in debates in the house and at committee level to ensure local interests are represented at a national level. To further protect the rights of citizens, Chapter 9 of the Constitution makes provision for a number of institutions that are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law.

In terms of Section 42 of the Constitution there must be public access and involvement in Parliament. You can stay informed regarding parliamentary agendas by contacting the Public Relations office at Parliament, or Contact Trust (contact etails in the Directory).

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