South Africa is comprised of nine provinces, each of which is served by a provincial legislature that elects the province’s premier and 10-member executive council. Provincial legislatures make their own laws, taking into cognisance the unique nature of each province while adhering to the provisions of the country’s Constitution.
Provincial legislatures are tasked with ensuring that government delivers services effectively and responds to the priorities of the electorate. Each provincial legislature is responsible for passing laws and holding the premier, executive council and all provincial government departments to account.
The Gauteng Provincial Legislature comprises between 30 and 80 members of the provincial legislature, called MPLs, who sit in the Johannesburg City Hall (“the House”). The Gauteng MPLs are drawn from the province’s political parties, with democratic voting informing the percentage of each party’s representation.
MPLs are divided into 14 committees, on which all political parties are represented. These committees gather regularly to discuss proposed legislation and work with provincial government departments. Members of the public are encouraged to enter into discussions with the committees, raising their concerns and influencing the direction of law-making.
By the time a Bill goes before the House, each party will have decided whether or not it will support the proposed legislation. At a sitting of the legislature, each MPL presents his or her opinion on the Bill, which is then decided on by majority vote. These parliamentary debates are open to members of the public, who may view the proceedings but are not given an opportunity to express their views at this stage of the legislative process.
The Gauteng Provincial Legislature is housed at Johannesburg City Hall, on the corner of Loveday and President streets in the city centre.
City Hall is worth a visit if you are taking in Johannesburg’s architectural heritage. The hall is built in the distinctive, 19th-century, classic city hall style, with porticos and high-domed towers. The four-storey, sandstone building proudly displays it colonial architectural style.
The history of City Hall dates back to 1909, when Cape Town firm Hawke and McKinlay won a competition to design the building. Mattheus Meischke, who also built Johannesburg’s Rissik Street Post Office, was tasked with construction – which was completed in early 1915 at a cost of £503 000.
In 1937, a second storey was added to the building after the tower was dismantled stone by stone and reconstructed after the alterations. Johannesburg’s City Hall was declared a national monument in 1979.
A comprehensive history of this grand old lady has been compiled, recording significant events, such as protest meetings on the steps in the 1950s and a bomb blast in 1988. The hall was the site of former state president FW de Klerk’s national referendum, which ushered in the country’s transition to democracy, and was used as a voting station in 1992 and a voter education centre before the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
Another reason to visit City Hall is to marvel at its pipe organ which, until a few years ago, was the largest in the southern hemisphere. Of the Edwardian “town hall” school, this piano is a magnum opus.
When the provincial legislature made City Hall its home (the institution was previously based in Pretoria), it promised to honour a charter to preserve the cultural heritage in the inner city by giving the building a much-needed make-over. While urban renewal projects in central Johannesburg are bringing life back to the city, City Hall, sadly, still awaits her renovation. The people of Gauteng need to get involved and pressure their legislature to upgrade the building if it is be to preserved for future generations.
Article from: www.gauteng.net