Public participation is defined as the involvement of the public or communities in legislative processes, oversight, issues of governance affecting their lives (Acts, Bills and/or public hearings) and activities by the committees of a legislature. Public participation gives a face to the Legislature and familiarises Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) to the public whom they have been mandated to represent. Each provincial legislature is obliged, under Section 118 (1) of the Constitution of South Africa, to facilitate public participation in legislative processes and those of its Committees.
An election is the first rule of democracy. Voting is the first voice of the public participation process. During elections the next national and provincial governments are selected. Before an election, each political party must put forward a list of candidates, in order of preference. The candidates are elected in proportion to the number of votes the party wins in the election. All South Africa citizens of ages 18 and older have a right to vote during elections, for the party of their choice.
Another form of public participation is by making submissions at the public hearings or meeting held by the Legislature. Members of the Provincial Legislature discuss Bills, and if those are of public interest, then the particular Committee may decide to hold a public hearing or just call for submissions. If you would like to inform a Committee of your views, do so by contacting the Committee Secretary at the Legislature.
A Member of the Provincial Legislature can be approached for help, if a problem arises that cannot be solve in any other way, and which requires their attention. Members of the Legislature who can be reached at the Provincial Legislature or at their Constituency Offices. Members of the public and interested stakeholders have a right to attend all meetings of the Provincial Legislature and its Committees.
One way where people’s views and needs can be voiced is by taking part in the Petition Process of the Provincial Legislature. A petition can be written and submitted to the Provincial Legislature on any matter for which the local, provincial or national government is responsible. A petition may address any matter within the Legislature and Executive Authorities of the Province, and it can be in any of the 11 official languages, as well as Nama and San. Anyone can petition in their own interest, in the interest of a group, in the interest of another who is not in the position to seek relief in their own name, or in the interest of the public.
The Public Education and Communication Unit works hand-in-glove with the Standing Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Petitions and Public Participation to facilitate and manage the petitions process. Most importantly, the unit receives and registers all petitions in the Petitions Register and prepares every petition received for consideration by the Committee which may involve corrections to the petition, if necessary, in consultation with the petitioner so as to ensure that a petition complies with the provisions of the Northern Cape Petitions Act and conducts preliminary investigations into petitions.
The Public Education and Communications Unit plays an important role in ensuring public involvement during public hearings by means of liaising with various stakeholders, including municipalities, to ensure maximum participation, and mobilising members of the public. A Public Hearing is an open meeting where a particular committee of the Legislature listens to the public on matters relating to a bill, petition or any other issue under consideration by the Legislature. At public hearings, members of the community, stakeholders and interest groups are given an opportunity to make written or verbal submissions pertaining to the issues at hand.
The Public Education and Communications Unit plays a pivotal role and responsibility in educating members of the public about the legislative processes of the provincial legislature and to ensure maximum attendance and participation of all programmes of the provincial legislature. The Unit is also responsible to conduct outreach and community awareness, school support programmes, mobilising the public to ensure maximum attendance, and liaising with various stakeholders, including municipalities and community development workers.
For more information on the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, please contact the Public Education and Communications Unit
Tel No : 053 839 8024/8341/8064
Fax No : 053 839 8094
Email address : publicinfoNCPL@ncpg.gov.za
Website address : www.ncpleg.gov.za
Facebook address : www.facebook.com/NCProvLeg