National Council of Provinces

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is the upper house of the Parliament of South Africa under the (post-apartheid) constitution which came into full effect in 1997. It replaced the former Senate, but is very similar to that body, and to many other upper houses of legislatures throughout the world, in that its purpose is to represent the governments of the provinces, rather than directly representing the people.[1]

National Council of Provinces
27th Parliament
Amos Masondo, ANC
since 23 May 2019
Deputy Chairperson
Sylvia Lucas, ANC
since 23 May 2019
Chief Whip
Seiso Mohai, ANC
since 25 May 2017
Cathlene Labuschagne, DA
since 19 September 2016
Seats90 (54 permanent, 36 special)
Political groups
  •          ANC (29 + 25)
  •          DA (13 + 7)
  •          EFF (9 + 2)
  •          Others (3 + 2)
Last election
8 May 2019
Meeting place
NCOP Chamber, Houses of Parliament, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
National Council of Provinces


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The NCOP comprises 90 provincial delegates, 10 delegates for each of the nine provinces regardless of the population of the province. This means that each province is equally represented in the NCOP.

A provincial delegation consists of six permanent delegates and four special delegates. The party representation in the delegation must proportionally reflect the party representation in the provincial legislature, according to a formula included in the Constitution.

The permanent delegates are selected by the nine provincial legislatures. The four special delegates consist of the Premier of the province and three other special delegates allocated from members of the provincial legislature. They are nominated by each province from Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) and are contingent on the subject matter being considered by the NCOP. The Premier of a province is the head of the province's delegation in the NCOP, but he or she can choose any other delegate to be in charge of the delegation in his or her absence.

Organised local government is also represented in the NCOP through the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). SALGA is permitted to 10 delegates who may partake in the debates and other activities of the NCOP, but may not vote.

Current composition

After the elections of 8 May 2019, the new provincial legislatures met on 22 May to elect NCOP delegations. The delegations elected are described in the following table.

Party Delegate type Province Total
African National Congress Permanent 4 3 3 3 4 4 3 3 2 29 54
Special 3 3 2 3 4 3 3 3 1 25
Democratic Alliance Permanent 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 3 13 20
Special 1 1 1 1 3 7
Economic Freedom Fighters Permanent 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9 11
Special 1 1 2
Freedom Front Plus Permanent 1 1 2 3
Special 1 1
Inkatha Freedom Party Permanent 1 1 2
Special 1 1
Total 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 90

Role in the legislative process

The NCOP may consider, amend, propose amendments to, or reject the legislation. It must consider all national bills, and also has the power to initiate legislation in the functional areas where Parliament and the provincial legislatures have concurrent legislative power.[1]

The NCOP has four decision-making mechanisms depending on the type of bill:[2]

  • (Section 74 bills) amend the national constitution; they may not deal with any matters other than constitutional amendments and matters related to the amendments. A bill that amends section 1 of the constitution (which defines South Africa as a constitutional democratic republic), or amends the Bill of Rights, or amends any constitutional provision affecting the NCOP itself, provincial boundaries or powers, or other specifically provincial matters, must be passed by the NCOP. Each delegation has one vote, and six of the nine delegations must approve the bill for it to pass. Other constitutional amendments do not have to be passed by the NCOP, but they must be debated publicly in the NCOP.
  • Bills not concerning the nine provinces (section 75 Bills); These are bills that are managed in terms of the procedure set out in section 75 of the Constitution. When considering these Bills, delegates vote as individuals and each has one vote. The Bill is approved to if the majority of delegates vote in favour of the Bill.
  • Bills concerning provinces (section 76 Bills); Bills that concern the provinces are generally those that relate to areas of shared national and provincial legislative competence. The NCOP attempts to confirm these Bills at least within the six-weeks to enable active public involvement and to allow enough time for provinces to deliberate mandates on their delegations. These Bills are dealt with in the provision of the procedure in section 76 of the Constitution. When deciding on Bills concerning provinces the provincial delegations vote in accordance with the mandate conferred on them by their respective provincial legislatures. Each province has one vote. A consulted 76 Bill is approved if at least five provinces vote in favour of the Bill.
  • Money Bills (section 77); These are Bills which deal with appropriation of money, the imposition of national taxes, levies, duties or surcharges. They are handled in terms of the procedure delineated in section 77 of the Constitution. Delegates vote individually and the Bill is agreed to if the majority of delegates votes in favour of it.

Office bearers

Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson

The office of President of the Senate was succeeded by the office of Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces in 1997. The inaugural holder of the position was Mosiuoa Lekota. He served as Chairperson from 1997 to 1999. The Chairperson is elected from the permanent delegates for a five-year term. The election of the Chairperson is presided over by the Chief Justice of South Africa. The Chief Justice can, however, designate another judge to preside. The Chairperson, in turn, presides over the other elections that takes place in the chamber. The legislative also elects a permanent Deputy Chairperson. A second Deputy Chairperson is elected for a one-year term. The position rotates between the nine provinces, enabling the provinces to have its members elected second Deputy chairperson,

The Chairperson chair all the sittings of the National Council of the Provinces. If the Chairperson is not present at the sittings, the Deputy Chairperson or House Chairpersons can preside over the sitting of the chamber.[3]

The current Chairperson is Amos Masondo after having taken office on 23 May 2019. The current Deputy Chairperson is Sylvia Lucas. The following people have served as Chairperson of the NCOP:

No. Chairperson
Term of Office Political Party
1 Mosiuoa Lekota
6 February 1997 21 June 1999 African National Congress
2 Naledi Pandor
21 June 1999 4 May 2004 African National Congress
3 Joyce Kgoali
4 May 2004 21 November 2004
(Died in office)
African National Congress
4 Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu
17 January 2005
Acting since
21 November 2004
22 May 2014 African National Congress
5 Thandi Modise
22 May 2014 22 May 2019 African National Congress
6 Amos Masondo
23 May 2019 incumbent African National Congress

Chairperson of the Committees

The Chairperson of the Committees is appointed by the members of the legislature. The position holds the following roles, including presiding over the meeting of the Committee of Chairpersons, approve the budget and expenditures of the committees and to preside over sittings of the House, when the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson are not available.

Chief Whips and Party Whips

Whips represent their individual parties' interests and ensure the discipline of their members. They also ensure that their parties function effectively. There are two Chief Whips who are official office bearers, the Chief Whip of the majority party and the Chief Whip of the largest opposition party. The smaller parties have Senior Whips assisted by a number of whips. The Chief Whips are formally appointed by the Chairperson. The Chief Whip of the majority party is responsible for the detailed arrangement of the legislative business.[4]

Leader of the Opposition

The position is designated to the leader of the largest opposition party in the legislature. Cathlene Labuschagne of the Democratic Alliance has been serving as Leader of the Opposition since her election in September 2016.

See also


  1. "National Council of Provinces". Parliament of South Africa. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  2. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, ss. 73–77.
  3. NCOP PRESIDING OFFICERS. Retrieved on 28 December 2018.
  4. National Council of Provinces. Retrieved on 29 December 2018.
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