European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Establishing a Legislative Scrutiny Framework

The Case of Delegated Legislation in the Parliament of South Africa

Keywords parliamentary process, post-legislative scrutiny, procedural framework, delegated legislation
Authors Victoria Hasson
Author's information

341805 Victoria Hasson
Victoria Hasson is Senior Parliamentary Adviser, Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
  • Abstract

      There is one indispensable contravention to the principle of separation of powers: parliaments must grant the executive the authority to make law in a delegated capacity. No modern state can be effectively governed without the executive making laws to supplement Acts of parliament. Delegating power does not mean that parliament loses its power. For parliament to retain its legislative authority what is required is a framework to support parliament to review the laws (and powers) that are being delegated, and that it has the capacity to monitor and regulate the use of that power by the Executive. At the start of South Africa’s new democracy in 1994, parliament had the opportunity to create a framework for effective delegated law-making. Yet the parliament took almost 10 years to develop its approach and a further 6 years to have this framework approved. Since then, the application of parliament’s scrutiny framework is challenged by a lack of political will that makes it difficult for this oversight to take place effectively, and a permanent, powerful mechanism to be agreed upon. A close look into how South Africa’s post-1994 delegated framework was developed offers insight into the challenges of developing parliamentary rules, practices and procedures in the context of a new representative democracy with significant developmental challenges. As parliament’s legislative supremacy is at stake, these insights are of vital importance to our consideration of how to strengthen the position, place and performance of parliaments as democracy assistance professionals, academics, MPs and parliamentary staff.

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