On 17 July, the eve of the official opening of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP) and the Premier’s State of the Province Address, Speaker Masizole Mnqasela and Deputy Speaker Beverley Schäfer hosted a cocktail function for the Cape Town Consular Corps.
This event, customary at the start of a new parliamentary term, saw the Members of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament engaging with representatives of the 54-member strong Cape Town Consular Corps, further enhancing the already healthy relationships established between the Western Cape and many of these states.
The Speaker and Deputy Speaker have placed, among others, the issue of international relations squarely on the agenda for the Sixth Parliament. The motivation for doing so includes strengthening existing and building new relationships for the benefit of all parties, while also improving the WCPP’s oversight of the Executive’s international partnerships and projects. “Dialogue between members of parliament increases mutual understanding between countries, develops best parliamentary practice, and will ensure that the Western Cape is playing an active part in the international parliamentary community. Members’ active participation in inter-parliamentary organisations improves their knowledge and insights, which in turn improves their ability to oversee the activities of the provincial government,” said Mnqasela.
During her opening remarks, Deputy Speaker Beverley Schäfer acknowledged the numerous close relationship between the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and other sub-national parliaments around the world. In a bid to formalise these relationship Schäfer said “We are looking to establish twinning agreements with parliaments across the world that are benchmarks of success in terms of innovation and digitisation, and those parliaments that have effective public outreach programs”.
In his address to the guests, Speaker Mnqasela indicated his desire to explore possible opportunities for human capital development for Members of Parliament and parliamentary officials. Mnqasela said: “Empowering Members and officials is critical in striving to constantly improve the efficiency of the institution and its potential to perform its constitutionally mandated functions to the best of its ability”.
Speaker Mnqasela and Deputy Speaker Schäfer also committed to positioning the Western Cape Provincial Parliament as a leading player in the international legislative arena, both regionally, continentally and globally. This includes participation in international legislative sector body activities such as those of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). The hosting of a Youth Parliament on 27 July will be one such activity.
The event also provided the opportunity for the Members of the WCPP, many of whom are new Members, with the opportunity to network and establish their own relationships with these foreign representatives.