The Evolution of Subnational Legislatures in South Africa: Tracing the Journey from Constitutional Foundations to Technological Innovation and Modernisation
About the Parliament of South Africa. Written on January, 2022
The modernisation of subnational legislatures in South Africa represents a significant development in the country's democratic journey. This transformation has been marked by significant milestones, from the establishment of a constitutionally-mandated legislative framework to the successful incorporation of technological innovations. The unprecedented advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has further expedited this digital transition, revealing the resilience and adaptability of the legislative sector. This analysis presents an extended exploration of this transformative journey, its implications, and the opportunities it presents for the future.
Founding Framework: The Constitutional Basis
The South African Constitution, while not expressly investigating the legislative sector, provides an indispensable framework for the creation and operation of the legislative sector. The framework established the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and nine provincial legislatures, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and cooperation. The constitutional vision was to eliminate silos, encourage standardisation, and ensure the mutual growth of the legislative sector. This constitutional underpinning led to the formalisation of the legislative sector through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU emphasised the importance of acknowledging the interdependence and interrelatedness among these institutions, fostering a sense of unity in diversity.