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MESSAGE FROM THE SPEAKER
This guide has been prepared as a means of giving the people of the Western Cape Province a better understanding of how the Western Cape Provincial Parliament operates, and in the hope that many will thereby become better acquainted with its activities.
The challenge extended by both the national and provincial Constitutions is for the Provincial Parliament to conduct its business with due regard to representative and participatory democracy, accountability, transparency and public participation. This guide attempts to illustrate how these requirements are met in the day-to-day functioning of the House and its committees. It also provides information on the history, processes and people involved in Parliament, and outlines ways in which you as a member of the public can make yourself heard in the parliamentary system.
The Western Cape Provincial Parliament is your Parliament. We invite you to make full use of the opportunities it offers you.
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The following account is not intended as an exhaustive narrative of the historical events leading to the present political dispensation. Instead it is hoped that this chronology will provide the reader with some knowledge of the occurrences that have shaped South Africa's political and constitutional growth.
Under the Dutch East India Company's regime, the Cape was administered by a Commander (later elevated to the office of Governor), assisted by the Council of Policy. The Dutch East India Company established a settlement at the Cape of Good Hope to act as a refreshment station for its ships on their long journeys to and from the East Indies. Although the settlement grew in size, its inhabitants remained subject to Company's control, having no say at the highest level of government decision-making.
The Council of Policy was abolished in September 1795 during the first British occupation. After 1814 the British assumed permanent control at the Cape. In 1825, an advisory council was established to assist the Governor in administering the Colony. However, the advisory council was by no means a representative body and its powers were extremely limited.
The arrival of British settlers and the presence of a small but vocal press contingent placed pressure on the British Home Government to enlarge the degree of popular representation. In 1834 the Cape received a new constitutional dispensation. This new dispensation saw the establishment of a Legislative Council with limited powers. Although its members consisted of officials and colonists nominated by the Governor, for the first time members of the public and journalists were permitted to attend sittings. However by 1849, the Legislative Council had fallen into disfavour with the populace, especially when it became known that there were plans afoot to ship ex-convicts to the colony.
In 1853 the Cape received a new Constitution providing for representative government. A two-chamber parliament was established, consisting of an elected lower chamber, called the Legislative Assembly, and the Legislative Council, which formed the upper chamber. In 1872 the system of responsible government was introduced, whereby members of the executive were accountable to Parliament. The Legislative Council continued to meet in old the Supreme Court building on Adderley Street. However, the Legislative Assembly had to be content with more cramped quarters in the Freemasons' Lodge De Goede Hoop. In 1884 the construction of a singl